Elovdol Village

Elov dol village is located in the outskirts of the Ruysko-Verilska Mountain. It is part of the Zemen municipality. One of its inhabitants, born in the distant 1882, has left his memories about the Surova celebration.

“In the past (in the first decades of the 20th century) we in Elov Dol used to wear only masks with plumage and feathers. The animal heads and the wooden hollows on the face came out later. In 1900 I was a soldier, but on Surova I escaped from the barracks, came to the village, made a mask from a big gourd, cut holes for the eyes and the mouth, decorated it with feathers and paper, put mustache from hemp, put on the fur-coat inside out and tied bells to the belt. Many survashkarye made their masks from gourds. Some placed on their upper part rabbit or cat leathers or feathers – whatever it occurs to them. Some of the costumes were from fur-coats turned inside out, others were made of rags. Even those made of rags seemed to be more. Some men in the group did not wear masks, they only had their faces painted black instead.

The survashkari would not go playing without “a bride” and “a groom” – without “a wedding”. They are the most important. The man – “bride” dresses in the clothes of an eminent maiden from the village and “the groom” struts in his own best clothes. In the “wedding procession” there are also: a “brother in law”, a “mother in law” and a “father in law”. The “brother in law” and the “groom” have towels and socks on their shoulders and flowers on their caps. There is also one who is dressed as a priest. He carries a censer in which he has put hot peppers and when he smokes the people with it, there is much laughter all over the village. The real priest from the church at first was somewhat angry at the survashkari, but then he got used to it. He used to say “This is not good, but what can I do with you?…” And he got used to it. Even, when going around all the houses in the neighborhoods, we visited his yard as well. We also played there. Everyone gifted us and he did too. There was a “bear keeper with a bear”. The “bear” mauls the hosts for good health and against pains in the back, or plays and rolls on the ground while the bear keeper plays the fiddle. We went throughout the whole night in the village. We visit every house, but not a one where someone has recently deceased.

About the 70s they started to wear colorful rag costumes, and even, I do not know where that came from, they made them in three colors – white, green and red, like the Bulgarian flag. It did not use to be like that, but now they go to play in other countries, so people should recognize where they come from. The masks are not made from gourds anymore. They put wooden hollows on their faces and on top of them horns, leathers, feathers, wings and even whole heads of rabbits, foxes, of all kinds of animals… Quite different, but as they go now to various festivals, they must be the prettiest. The most important thing is that they play here on Surova! Ever since I can remember, the Surova is the biggest and the best feast in the year. It has never stopped. The whole village prepares, in each house we are welcomed and invited inside, they gift us generously and we wish them good health.”

Today in Elov Dol Surova is the most anticipated holyday as well. In the recent years, survakari groups from the neighboring villages also gather on the village square around the bonfire. They visit each other in turns so the whole region can enjoy the incredible beauty of the Surova days.

Archive of the Regional Historical Museum – Pernik