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January. Тhe folk custom sourvakane – a real jewel in the intangible cultural heritage of Bulgaria.


On the first day of the New Year in early morning 12-13-year-old children are eager to get up and start the custom of sourvakane. They put on nice clothes, take a bag and a cornel twig in their hands – a symbol of strength. These cornel-tree twigs are called sourvachki. They are decorated in advance according to the local tradition: in the mountain areas – with coloured wool and threads, in the flat regions – with popcorn, dried fruit, chili peppers, seeds…
The children first bless their family by patting everyone on the back with the sourvachka, starting from the oldest member. Then, in groups they go door to door in all houses. The hosts expect the small sourvakari with joy. While patting with the sourvachki the children say a special blessing – kind of verbal magic for health and prosperity throughout the year. In return they are given small gifts – bread, fruits, walnuts, coins…
When the tour ends the children throw the sourvachka in the river and head home with full bags.

Photo: Аssociation "Spectar 21 vek"