Preparation for Survakane
"Survakane (Bulgarian: Cypвaкaнe) is a Bulgarian custom used to wish a prosperous new year. Survakane is a tradition performed with a decorated stick, known as a survaknitsa or survachka, on New Year's Day, as a measure for health during the year.
Survakane proper is a ritual in which a member of the family, typically the youngest, lightly pats the back of others with a survaknitsa during Christmas or on the morning of New Year's Day (known in Bulgarian as Vasilovden). While doing this, he or she recites a short verse wishing their relative well for the new year. The members of the family (usually children) who do the ritual are known as survakari or survakarcheta. Afterwards, these children are awarded snacks, candy, or small amounts of money.
The survaknitsa or survachka is a curled branch of a cornel tree (Bulgarian: дpян), usually decorated with coins, popcorn, dried fruits, small bagels, ribbons, and threads, although different decorations are used in different regions of Bulgaria. Typically, northern Bulgarian survaknitsas will fruits, bread, and seeds strung on them, while coins are used in the south. The branches are usually bent so as to resemble the Cyrillic letter "f" (Ф). The selection process for a branch is usually held a few days before New Year's, in order to have time to decorate the stick as the family sees fit.
The branch can be taken from any live fruit tree, although dogwood is preferred because of its long life and early blossoming, which are supposed to represent desirable qualities."