Δευτέρα, 20 Νοεμβρίου 2017

HE CARNIVAL SEASON AND GOAT – DANCE



THE CARNIVAL SEASON AND GOAT – DANCE       
       It is not surprising that Easter (Πάσχα), the most joyous  festival of the year throughout  Greece, is surrounded by numerous  religious  and folk beliefs, songs and dances,  and century – old customs.  During  the three  weeks prior to the austere seven – week ( forty – eight days) Lenten period  which the Greek Orthodox Church  designated as “Great Lent”  in memory of Christ’s forty – day fast, there is much drinking,  eating, singing and dancing; for it is the carnival  season known as Apókries. The first  week, called Announcing Week, is heralded with rifle fire and shouting  from the hilltops. Although  celebrations are well underway, it is commonly  believed  that during  this first week souls  of the dead are set free and wander  among the living. For this reason, after the fatted pig has been  slaughtered and the carnival meal begins, the first  mouthful of meat and the first glass of wine must be accompanied by the prayer: “ May God forgive the souls of the dead”.            The second week , Meta Week (or Kreatiní) , pigs are eaten and the merriment continues  in homes and in local womenfolk. Riddles and puns,  most of which are very risque  and licentious,  are recited and/or sung. The  final week of the carnival season is Cheese Week (Tiriní), so  named because only cheese , milk and eggs should  be consumed. It is during the last Sunday of this week that a truly   extraordinary spectacle brings the carnival  season on Skyros to a close. It is the day of the “goat-dance”.Just how  or when the goat – dance originated and what its significance may have  been are obscured  by history. The traditions and songs associated with it, however, are important aspects of contemporary  Skyrian life and folklore. It seems  as though  everyone  on the island knows the leg-end of how the goat- dance began:“Once upon a time an old shepherd and his wife were out with their flock at the season of Apókries and there was a great  snow – fall. All their animals died, whereupon the shepherd  skinned them, tied  bells and skins around himself   and returned to the village with his wife, who was by that time  in rags. This spectacle, with the sound of the bells, so impressed the populace  that they began little by little  to imitate it each year  at the same season” 13

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