Folk Festivals on the Islands

The rejuvenating light on the islands highlights even the smallest detail, washing out from one’s vision and one’s soul all that is superfluous and retaining only the essential, the exulted. Whenever a folk festival is held on an island, cosmopolitan or secluded, the five senses are generously rewarded. A colorful, vibrant, open-air meeting in the main square or the forecourt of a humble remote chapel or imposing church: tables laid end to end and set with cheerful checkered tablecloths or impersonal plastic or paper and delectable meze in make-shift serving dishes fashioned from baking parchment. Here, set on a white plate, large or small, you can taste the culinary artistry of the island housewife. Dionysos, the Virgin Mary, the island or village’s respective patron-saint are all here, especially the patron-saint, a respected intermediary, one of us, given that the sky is too high for our voices to reach it. The patron-saint is honored, cajoled, “bribed”, fed. We celebrate the moment, the most sacred of all: the religious folk festival. Drinks flow, faces smile, the sun slips between the silts of reed roofs and canopies, music crackles through loudspeakers. Someone stands and slowly makes his way to the dance floor, twirling in the throes of a zeibekiko; others join him on the floor as the music turns to a more erotic ballos and the dancers clasp hands, face each other, step close, step away, sway, turn, setting their soul free to follow the tempo. Island folk festivals are a celebration with food, community, conversation, circle dancing: each is a moment where the heart fills with a shared, common joy that serves as a reminder that there is life with others. By attending folk festivals, people combat isolation. The sharing of food that follows many hours of volunteer work, the celebrating, singing, dancing, the liberating feeling that you belong fill participants with joy and a deep sense of satisfaction. Every twinge of inspiration and delight is conveyed from heart to heart by the notes of a musical instrument. And when it’s over, you leave taking with you an entire microcosm created out of memories, music, flavors, songs, dances, landscapes, people, stories, and traditions. On most island of the Aegean archipelagos, local communities are tasked with organizing the folk festivals alongside local merchants and civic associations, farmers, stockbreeders, individuals active in civic affairs, dreamers, and others who stubbornly strive to recreate and preserve their island’s traditions.

Επιμελητήριο Κυκλάδων Επιμελητήριο Δωδεκανήσου
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