Zidartsi Village

Zidartsi village is located 10 km northwest from the town of Pernik and 6 km north from the town of Batanovtsi.

Georgi Radoslavov shares his memories about the custom in the village. When he was a young child, he was scared form the men who performed Surova, but at the same time was excited. So, when he grew up he started masking himself – as a ‘bridegroom’ with a suit and a bowler hat.

“I started participating in Surova when I was 15–16 years old. At that time in the group were young boys and men about 30–35 years old. There were no girls. The constant personages in the group were ‘bride’, ‘groom’, ‘best man’, ‘mother in law’, ‘father in law’, ‘gypsies’, etc. Our costumes were primarily from leather, we used leather turned inside out. We also turned inside out old clothes. We used as well the traditional for the region sleeveless dresses, with which the men were dressed. Our masks were from leather and horns. And when we create a mask, everyone tries not to be recognized and his mask to be the most fearful.

We wake up very early on Surova, around 3-4 in the morning. We have a meeting point. We go to the place, form the group and start visiting the houses. There would always be one, who has an authority among us and who is the leader, bulyubashiya. He says when we start, where we go and like that.

The “bride and the groom” enter the doorway of the house first. The hosts welcome us and the masked jangle with their bells. While the ‘priest’ performs the ‘wedding’ they stop jangling, then they start again. This day in the village the spirits are high. The locals expect the group and prepare to welcome them. The survakars move with great noise rattling their bells and the people hear them from distance. When they come closer, the hosts cry out: “They are coming, they are coming!”

The masked jangle in every yard around the house, around the animal and the farm buildings. And the hosts give them gifts for good health. They give us towels, bacon, meat, brandy (rakiya). They give money to the ‘bride’ after the ‘wedding’. That was our tradition in the past.”

Georgi Radoslavov remembers that in the past on Surova very often the group from the neighboring village of Yardzhilovtsi would also visit Zidartsi. He shares his mother’s memory about the custom as well. According to her, every survashkar visited the house of the girl, whom he wanted to marry. He watched if the house was clean and how it was ordered. In that way the young men had the chance to visit the girl’s home and to have an impression of her abilities as a housekeeper. The survashkari entered not only in the yard, but also in the house, where in some of the bigger rooms they would perform the ‘wedding’ ritual. According to the narrator, the profound meaning of the Surova custom “is inextricably bound up with the beginning of human generation”.

            Recorded in 2018