Lent will soon be with us. Greeks like one last celebration to eat lots of meat (mostly lamb), drink a glass or two of wine and party.
Smokey Thursday gets its name from the smoke of the barbecue and as you can see [opposite] the name is quite apt. The village was filled with the wonderful smells and sounds of Τσικνοπέμπτη.
There was lots of traditional music and dancing.
There was lots of not so traditional music and dancing
But mostly there was lots of food, wine, good company and good humour. A massive thank you to everyone for the donations that made this all possible. Times are hard in Greece, but the spirit of Molyvos refuses to lie down.
The custom of Klidonas has its routes in ancient times. Single women would gather around and an oracle would tell them the identity of their future husband. The word Klidonas derives from the ancient word Klidon which was the sound of prophecy, the random words and actions that came through an oracle during the ceremony of fortune-telling.
On 23 June, the day before St. John’s (Άγιος Ιωάννης ο Πρόδρομος) name-day, all single women would meet in a friends house and walk to the nearest spring. Then one girl whose parents were still alive (and most probably called Maria) would have to bring some water to the house and fill a ceramic pot with it. The water is called “silent water” because everyone who would have the privilege to carry out this mission would have to do so without saying a single word throughout the whole process. Each girl would then put a personal item into the pot and the pot would be sealed with a red cloth and put under the stars for the night. All girls were supposed to dream of their future husbands that night.
During that night men and women would gather sticks and light fires at the streets. Each neighbourhood had its own fire, the “karabousties” or “booboones” and the biggest one was lit at the Main Square of the village or in any open space so everyone could see. Everyone would then take turns and jump over the fires at least three times each.
Next morning before sunrise – so the magic influence of the stars would not disappear – the girl who brought the water would bring it indoors to begin the ceremony. Married women and men would also be invited this time so they could be witnesses to this important fortune-telling. “Maria” would then take the red cloth off and for each personal item she pulled out, a different rhyme would be read out. The rhymes or song lyrics or poetry that was read would represent the fortune-telling for each girl. When this process is over and when it is closer to sunset, each girl would have to fill their mouth with a sip of the ‘silent water’, stand beside an opened window and wait till she hears the first male name from the passersby. That was meant to be the name of their future husband.
The celebrations would end with a big feast where everyone was invited.
The custom of Klidonas is being kept alive in most places in Greece and exists in different variations. For example, nowadays not only single girls carry the water but boys also, the rhymes are now mostly rude anecdotes and poems so everyone, well, almost everyone, laughs and the ceremony is more like a party than a fortune-telling ceremony. There is always plenty of food and drink and in some areas like Molyvos, there is a huge fire lit in the centre of the village and people still jump over it. The bigger the fire the better, the ruder the anecdotes the merrier!
The Christmas Fair takes place each year at the school in Molyvos with the proceeds going towards items needed by the school. Previous years proceeds have resulted in new classroom furniture and much needed computer equipment, very worthwhile causes. Due to bad weather on Sunday morning I thought the Fair was never going to take place. However the stalls had been laid out in the morning and nothing was going to stop it going ahead. A final downpour about an hour after the Fair had opened sent everyone rushing for pieces of plastic to cover over their stalls. Even though some things for sale got a little damp it didn’t stop the fun. It is nice to see that in these times of hardship people still turn out (even in the rain) to support the village.There were lots of nice things on offer including a beautifully laid out stall of handmade Christmas handicrafts, a selection of toys, dolls with handmade individual knitted outfits, tom-bola, children’s clothing, gift ideas, wheel of fortune and even horse rides. There were different tables of food, donated by people of different nationalities for everyone to sample, and of course you can’t have this type of event without the obligatory mulled wine, hot dogs and popcorn. The smells of which wafted around the playground which really made you want to try them out. I can personally recommend the mulled wine. The children of the school sang Christmas songs. Santa turned up and the donkey,which was part of the Nativity setting, gave rides to the children. All in all a very satisfying event. We shall look forward to this again next year. Lets just hope the weather is a little kinder.
UPDATE – The fair raised just under €5000 for the school. A big thank you to everyone.