The village of Yardzhilovtsi is situated 10 km west from the city of Pernik, on the way to the Breznik region. The local residents of the village like to say, “There may be nothing else here, but there should be Surova”… If a visitor tries to ask a question about their favorite celebration, they start answering one over the other:
– In the other villages, people refer the masked persons as Survashkari. In our village, we are “Mechkari” (bear-leaders). “Mechkari”! We call the house where we make our masks “Mechkarnitsa” (bear-cave). The month before “Surova” we spend all our time in the “Mechkarnitsa” to make our masks. Our wives are angry because we don’t go home, but who listens to them? Some people sleep here and in the morning they go right straight to work.
– My son is 4 years old and he cries because he wants to come with us. He wants so much to have his own mask. I have to spend some money and buy him a set of bells. I won’t leave it like that, I will buy one for him. That’s my duty.
– I have been a “Mechkar” (one who participates in the celebration) for more than 40 years and whenever “Surova” comes, I don’t even go to work for a week. I sit here in the “Mechkarnitsa” and I make my mask. My boss doesn’t say anything. It’s for “Surova”, right? So, he doesn’t say anything.
– Some time ago, in the 60s, 70s and 80s we had one shift-boss in the factory, who declared the time around “Surova” a vacation, because he knew we would not go to work anyway. That was something like a required vacation for us, ha-ha!
– “Surova” should be an official holiday. If the government has at least a little brain in their heads, they should do it. January 14th – “Surova” should even be a national celebration!
– Only men mask themselves like “Mechkari” (plural for the ones who participate in the celebration) on “Surova”. I remember in 1982 for the first time girls got out with us – the bear-leaders. The girls were my daughter and one another girl. They were both 6 and 7 years old. Now they want to go with us again. “We’ll take them, right?” We will mask my daughter as a bride and for the first time we will have a girl for the bride instead of a man. She won’t get tired of walking around the village all night. On “Surova” nobody gets tired!
– This year, when we get some money from “Surova” we shall fix the roof of our bus stop, so it doesn’t rain on those who travel with the bus every day. And we shall also fix up our fruit store, it’s waiting for us. Last year, when we bought a big heater for our medical service, it was very good, wasn’t it?
– I know one thing – until my clock stops ticking (points to his heart), I will attend the celebration. I won’t stop masking. I will go to the masquerade until the end of my life. You know, even when I die I will rise up a little from my grave to catch a glimpse of “Surova”.
– But why will you die? Live, mask and watch us!
– For us “Surova” is like a religion…