Cherna gora Village

The village of Cherna Gora is situated in the territory of the town Batanovtsi, only a few kilometers away from Pernik. There, people have been celebrating Surva for as far back as people can remember and the village attracts a lot of interest with its beauty and traditions. For few decades, one man from Pernik has made the masquerade his own biggest holiday. Every 13th and 14th of January he celebrates it in Cherna Gora. This is his story:

“I don’t have a birth village. I am from the town of Pernik. My grand-grandparents are from Pernik. I was young when, because of something else, I found myself with my relatives in Cherna Gora the days before Surva. They opened the door of one basement for me and I stopped breathing – never before I was so impressed to see such beauties, collected in one place. There were so many bells on the walls, so many bells. And there were around 10 masks on the shelves. Maybe 7 or even 8 people put masks on Surva from this house: the house owner, his daughter, son, son-in-law, daughter-in-law and his grandchildren… The basement was full of masks, bells, belts, horns, leather skins… “Amazing! Can I touch them?” I asked. We ringed the bells, they were maybe a hundred or two hundred… I will never forget this experience… Then my mother and I spent several nights sewing a costume and my relatives gave me a mask and a full set of bells. So, I prepared to walk all night with their group. I became a part of the group and now I am always with them. Ever since, I haven’t missed a single year – not a single one! My son has been with me since he was 6 years old. Once, when I was going to Cherna Gora for “Surva”, he started to cry because he wanted to come with me. I made him a mask, gave him the smaller bells and took him with me. It was cold and it was snowing… He walked wet, freezing and hungry with us all day. The evening he fell asleep in the car but he woke up and shouted: “Are we going one more time?” Than, as a student he came with me to Cherna Gora for “Surva”. And now he still attends annually.

One year we went with our group around the village and suddenly two big cars came. Few people got out of them and said we shouldn’t walk around on the 14th of January, because the new church calendar said that New year and “Surva” were on the 1st of January. However, we decided that since we were doing it on the 14th for such a long time, we would continue doing it on the 14th. Other villages have made the same decision. That’s why we all mask ourselves and play with the masks according to the old church calendar and not to the new one. And we play! For good health and wealth – we play…

That’s me. I am “Survakar” (man who participates in the masquerade) without a village, but a real one, one that’s in love with mask games. Cherna Gora made me fall in love with them…

There are a lot of children in the group of Cherna Gora nowadays. Older people slowly started to give up, but the children didn’t. They made their own group, chose their leader, dressed up one bride and one groom, one of the children dressed up like a little priest and they made their own “bear and bear-leader” – everything was like the older peoples’ group. They continued “Surva” on their own. They taught us a good lesson and now we are back together. Some time ago, masks were made of feathers and wings, and now they are made entirely of leather. Everyone independently makes their own mask, and that’s why they are so beautiful and different. All people enjoy seeing them and they invite us in the town of Batanovtsi, and in the villages of Kopanitsa and Svetlya. They also come to visit us in Cherna Gora. I don’t know if somewhere else, in other cultures, people have such holidays, but our “Surva” is unique.”

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