The Mystique of the “Surova” Kukeri Festival in the Village of Kosharevo, Bulgaria

In the heart of Bulgaria, amidst the enchanting village of Kosharevo, an age-old tradition comes to life every year during January. Known as “Surva” (Surova) in Bulgarian, the Kukeri festival weaves together a tapestry of history, culture, and mystique. This annual event not only showcases the vibrancy of Bulgarian traditions but also offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of the nation’s past. Let’s delve into the captivating world of the “Kukeri” and its significance in Bulgarian history.

The Intricate Dance of the”Kukeri”: “Surva” festival is a unique celebration that revolves around masked men, known as “Kukeri,” who dress in elaborate costumes adorned with colorful fabrics, bells, and masks called “Likove” made from pigeon’s feather. These costumes often depict fearsome and mythical creatures, embodying a fusion of pagan and folkloric symbolism. The “Kukeri”, with their jingling bells and flamboyant outfits, engage in an intricate dance believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the community.

Ancient Roots and Pagan Origins: The roots of the “Surva” festival trace back to ancient pagan rituals practiced by the Thracians, a pre-Slavic population in the region. These rituals were dedicated to the god Dionysus and were meant to ensure fertility, prosperity, and protection against malevolent forces. Over time, as Bulgaria’s cultural landscape evolved, these rituals became intertwined with Christian traditions, finding a place in the winter calendar in January. Of course all mixed with a lot of strong alcohol drinks and spirits.

Symbolism and Rituals: Central to the “Surva” festival are the intricately designed masks and costumes. These creations often feature animalistic figures, such as bears, goats, and roosters, believed to symbolize strength, fertility, and protection. The jingling bells attached to the costumes are thought to chase away evil spirits, ensuring a prosperous year ahead. The Kukeri’s dance and procession through the village streets form a captivating spectacle, drawing locals and visitors alike into the enchanting world of Bulgarian folklore.

Preserving Identity Through Generations: The festival is not only a display of cultural heritage but also a means of passing down traditions from one generation to the next. The intricate artistry involved in crafting the costumes and masks, as well as the dance routines, fosters a sense of community and identity among the villagers. Through participation in the festival, the younger generation is introduced to the importance of preserving their roots.

The “Surva” Kukeri festival in the village of Kosharevo stands as a living embodiment of Bulgaria’s rich historical tapestry. As the Kukeri dance with their jingling bells and vibrant masks, they not only ward off malevolent forces but also remind us of the enduring power of culture, identity, and the shared human need to celebrate life’s mysteries.


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