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The carnival in Amorgos



carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

Spring comes early, on February, in Amorgos island dressing it in a colorful clothing composed of marguerites and anemones which shape huge flower carpets on the earth, while wild orchids emerge among the brushwood.

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

Having been there, I was said that early spring is the reason Amorgians celebrate the carnival having a regular spree during that time of the year. The nature inspires them to sing and dance outdoors celebrating the end of the winter and the arrival of the spring which brings the renaissance of the earth making it flourish, while the sun is spreading its hot rays all over the island brightening the colors of the plants and the sea. It is an atmosphere the requickens people after the cold winter that had limited their activities within their houses. Being happy for the forthcoming sunny and colorful days, Amorgians celebrate it intensively including old customs of their island which enrich their jollification.

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

I was in Amorgos last year, on the last Sunday of the carnival, known as "Tirinis Sunday". I experienced a traditional fiesta that started when both young and older men gathered at a small building situated opposite the Panagia (Madonna) Epanochoriani (who lives on the upper part of the village) church. I joined them as they tried to make feel like the way they did, as if I was just an Amorgian too, initiated to that local celebrating. To begin with, they let me know that the building we had arrived serves as a snack-caf on special occasions like the one I was experiencing. From the very first moment , we started drinking wine and a traditional greek drink called "raki", eating fried bogues, singing and dancing accompanied by violins and lutes until I was told to follow them who were crowding around the priest. He threw his outer cloth high in the air and the first man who caught it was proclaimed the leader of the carnival and was called captain from then on.

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

Continuously, another person was designated as the captains guard and was named bairaktaris. They both entered the "occasional caf" in order to get dressed in their traditional costumes while the other men adorned themselves with colorful ribbons. This specific adornment reminded me of ancient customs as they are featured on vessels where young men with colorful ribbons are depicted during celebrations. The captains guard impaled a big piece of salt cod, a double loaf of bread and a round piece of cheese on a long pole which was also adorned with ribbons. These two men were the leaders of the carnival parade which directed to Lagada village. The music players followed the guard who was holding his pale while the captain rode a horse behind them surrounded by his friends. I was parading with them wrapped in the ribbons that crossed my chess. We were drinking wine shots and as the music was really cheerful, we were stopping every now and then to dance in the middle of the streets.

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

The women wait for the mens parade at the entrance of the village and joined us when we arrived there. We passed through every road or lane of the village until we arrived at the central square. Then, the captains friends were pulling his horse three times around the square in order to show off the carnival leader. After having dismounted the horse, the captain he directed to the womens company and chose one of them in order to become his partner.

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

The captain couple was the first to start the dancing circle, as it was imposed by the tradition of Amorgos. The big time had come and everybody was dancing in Lagada Square until the evening when all these people resorted to the traditional restaurants until the next morning.

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

Apart from ancient customs as they are recorded on vessels, the symbolism of this fiesta drives back to the piratical habits of the locals when the men had to select a leader for their sallies. Last years, the captain is also selected by the mens company instead of the priest.

Recalling their piratical past, the locals, both men and women, wore piratical hats and had painted mustaches on their faces, using coal.

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

An old man who was dancing endlessly all night long, drinking plenty of wine without looking drunk at all, told me a story about an Amorgian pirate, who lived in the beginning of the twentieth century. According to my fellow, the pirates nickname was Katingo and his lair was situated in Koufonisi island He was accused for all the criminals that had been committed within the island and the police was chasing him. On Tirinis Sunday, in 1903, the chief policeman of Amorgos invited locals to his house where he had organized a carnival party, so everybody would be disguised.

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

When Katingo became aware of the party, he decided to join it even though he had not been invited. So, he arrived there disguised in a young lady. He was dancing with the policeman flirting with him. The latter fell in love with that lady and asked her to meet early in the morning. The lady gave the policeman a piece of paper where she had written the meeting place, before leaving the house. The policeman unfolded the paper when he had escaped his conjugal bed, abandoning his wife, totally seduced by the young woman to realize that it had been signed by the man he had been chasing for a long time, the famous Katingo! Of course, everybody in Amorgos was laughing at the pratfall of the policeman...

carnival in amorgos carnival in amorgos

The night went on until the next morning, the Clean Monday, when everybody came back to the central square where lenten food was served and of course everybody was still dancing.

The hospitality of Amorgians made me feel really comfortable and I enjoyed a very pleasant music and dancing party where I tasted local tasty food. I think that I will come back soon bringing my friends with me. I am sure that they will love this fiesta too.


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