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Holidays and rituals

The traditional holidays in the region of Petrich are related to the Christian holiday calendar. All the big religious holidays such as: Christmas Eve, Christmas, St. Basil’s Day, St. Jordan’s Day, St. Ivan’s Day, Easter, St. George’s Day, St.Todor’s Day, St.Petar’s Day, The Assumption of St. Mary, St. Ilia’s Day,  St. Dimitar’s Day are celebrated by a big part of the population with official ceremonies in the churches. All holidays and festivals in the area are charged with creative energy and positive mood.

The Surva carnival holiday (St.Basil’s Day)

The masquerades from New Year’s Eve( the so-called carnival dances) and the Rusalii dances are two folklore calendar rituals that managed to keep the Bulgarian spirit alive at the foot of Belasitsa. They are connected with the so- called “dirty days” starting from Christmas (24 December) and ending on St. Jordan’s Day (6 January). In the past these rituals were performed during the whole period unlike nowadays- only on 1st January (St. Basil’s Day) known to the local people as Surva.

The tradition shows that the masquerades on New Year’s Eve are typical customs for the local population, while the Rusalii dances were brought with the large waves of refugees that overflowed the region of Petrich after the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. People who practiced it were the Bulgarins – immigrants from the region of Kukush, Gevgeliya and Enidje Vardar. The Rusalii dances are accompanied by music played on snouts, bagpipes and drums. The Rusalii are young men, who roam the villages between Christmas and St. Jordan’s Day. During the years, the two rituals have mixed together and they have become inseparable part of the ritual system of the population in Petrich and its region. The Rusalii’s dances are usually combined with mummery procession and they represent a united carnival holiday - Surva.

On 1 January (Surva) the citizens of Petrich get together to watch the procession of the mummers “stranichari” and their dances.

Palm Sunday

It’s celebrated on the last Sunday before Easter. To celebrate the holiday, different cultural events and sports games are organized in the area of Belasitsa mountain hut above Petrich.

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