Customs and traditions

 

Customs from Thrace


January 1st (celebrating the memory of Saint Vassilios)
On this day the children used to wake up very early to proceed from house to house, holding a wooden stick ('sourvaka'). They used the stick to slightly hit the family members in the buttocks asking for treats and money. The kids used to sing a song wishing good luck to all members.

The cross of Epiphany
When the Epiphany service is over a group of young men take the cross from the priest and visit the houses, chanting psalms. The money gathered are used for philanthropic activitities.


February 1st (celebrating the memory of Saint Triphon)

St. Triphon was the patron saint of wine-makers in Sozopolis. His memory is celebrated by the local wine makers in Gefira ever since they moved here from Sozopolis. On this day the priest holds a special service and the farmers take some holy water with them to spatter their vineyards. A special soup with beef meat is prepared ('Kourbani') and it is shared to all people along with plenty of wine. The club hosts a feast with traditional dances.

On Holy Thursday

The ladies used to hang a red garment outside the eastern window of their houses. Then they prepared the Easter eggs, coloring them with red dye. On this day the young girls used to pierce their ears and wear ear-rings.

The celebrations of 'Panayia Revmatokratousa'
The celebrations of Panayia (Virgin Mary) are taking place 8 days after Easter. On Monday morning a group of musicians carry banners decorated  with flowers and proceed to the houses of new married couples or enganged people. The town wakes up from the merry sounds of the clarinets and drums. When the church service is over, the litany of the holy icon of Panayia takes place, followed by athletic games.


June 24: "Klidonas": celebrating 'Ai-Yiannis Colimvitis' (St.John the Baptist)

The previous night the women and the children gather dry grass and light up fires on the cross-roads. They jump 3 times over the fire for good luck. They burn the flower wreaths which they prepared on May 1st and kept hung over the home entrances. When the fires are extinguished all unmarried women gather in a house. A woman (whose parents are both alive) brings a pot filled with water from a well or a cistern. The water is called 'amilito' (speechless) because the woman has to remain silent during the process.

When the "Amilito" water is brought into the house, all women throw a personal object of some value into the pot. Then the pot is covered with a red cloth, it is locked and moved outside the house. The name of the custom is 'Klidonas' and it derives from the word 'klidono' (lock). The pot remains locked under the starlight all through the night and the women return to their homes. The custom says that on this very night they are going to dream of their future husbands.

The next day the woman who gathered the water brings the pot inside the house. They believed that this had to be done before sunrise otherwise the sunlight would neutralise the magical power of the stars. In the evening all women, relatives and neighbours are gathered together to unlock the pot. A woman sits in the center and opens the pot while singing a special song. She picks the items one by one from the pot and she recites certain short poems which she picks randomly from her memory. It was believed that the verses revealed the future to the woman whom the particular item belonged to. In the evening, when the 'soothsaying' is over, each woman takes a sip of the 'amilito' water and she stands before an open window. The first male name she hears will be the name of her future husband.


Animal sacrifice (during the foundation of a new building):

This pagan custom has its roots in ancient times. People slaughter a hen and spatter the foundations with its blood to protect the house.

'Aski' or house hanging:

Before the builders of a new house start the construction of the roof, the owner makes up a wooden cross and attaches it to the frames. Then his friends and relatives bring presents and silk clothes which they hang from the wooden cross. These gifts are given to the house builders who, in return, wish good luck to the owner and his family.

'Varvara' 
The memory of St.Barbara is celebrated on December 4. The saint is thought to protect the young kids from smallpox and give strength to people. The locals honour her memory and ask for her help by preparing a special sweet soup ('varvara') made of wheat, corn, raisings, dry fuits, nuts and sugar. The soup is offered to the neighbours and friends.