Kopanitsa Village

Kopanitsa village administratively belongs to the municipality of Radomir. It is situated in the northwestern end of the Radomir valley and on the western bank of the Struma river.

One of the participants in the survakarska (masquerade) group remembers that the biggest winter holidays in the village were Surova and Christmas. When he was a young boy, together with the other children from the neighborhood, they first visited the houses with a surovatchka (a decorated stick from cornel-tree used to ritually strike people on the back wishing them good health). Later, when they grew-up, they started preparing their own masks, which were more ordinary – from cardboard. Masked with them the children joyfully went around the neighborhood. When they became young men, together with his friends they started following the older than them, who were more disguised with their masks. So the time arrived for them to join the group of the survasharye.

Kopanitsa was a big village, but was divided in 23 straggling neighborhoods. So on Surova there were several groups in the neighborhoods Stoinevi, Karpuzovi, Gyuzelevi, etc. Later all the participants from the different neighborhoods united in one common group.

Georgi Sergiev says: “Once the survakar went in his everyday clothes, because people were poor. He made one mask for himself. Our masks are not big – with leather, horns and with black paint from coal. Everybody tried to create some fearful creature – a mask that is convenient, so that when one puts in on, not to take it off, and not to be recognized by anybody. One would put on a fur-coat with the fur turned inside out. Over that fur-coat, the bells were arranged. Underneath he wore his ordinary everyday trousers – the local white homespun trousers – as we call them cheshire. With those cheshire, with his fur-coat turned inside out, with his mask and with his homemade leather shoes (tsarvuli) – that was it. The only thing, which was once used as a rag in the former life, was an old women’s shirt, but already worn out and with patches.”

Georgi Sergiev would also joyfully remember how the Kopanitsa group went as far as Radomir on Surova: “We went as far as Radomir as well; we visited the organizations in the town and went down to the factories. The first years we went on foot from the village to the town. We started from the upper end of Kopanitsa, which is within 4 km of the town, from there we went to the Asphalt base – it is above the town of Radomir. We started at 5 o’clock in the morning, went along the old part of Kopanitsa, and left the neighborhood of the railway station here for visiting as late as the evening. And starting along the highway we went to the Asphalt base, then went down through the town – the Municipality, the Forestry Enterprise, all the social organizations and also some of our fellows’ and acquaintances’ houses. Then we went to the factories – “Glasshouse works”, “Vetprom”, “Electric”. And then we went back on foot along the railway track, and at last we visited that part of the village, which is next to the station. It had got dark until that time. We were very tired, but we were happy and satisfied to have fulfilled a great Surova celebration!”

The money the group collected during the years of socialism were used mainly to support the village football team and the culture center (chitalishte). They also bought bells for the group. When the first cinema was built in the village, the survakari paid for the chairs in it with their collected money.

According to Georgi Sergiev, “To participate in Surova means to participate for good health. I have started from a child to go with the group and that’s what I know. Surova means health, health, health! Nobody knows when the feast started, but the tradition will be carried on after us as well!”

Nowadays, there are also many young people in Kopanitsa village who willingly join the masquerade group. These are the children of the local people who already live in the towns, but joyfully return home for Surova.

Recorded in 2018

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