Sifnos was one of the richest islands of antiquity, thanks to the gold and silver deposits that its land hid. He knew wealth and glory, but also poverty and decay. The aristocracy that dominates Sifnos is a result of the great cultural and spiritual tradition of the island that brought out excellent poets, writers, folklorists, educators, spiritual people.
LITERATURE AND ARTS
In the arts and letters, Sifnos has produced excellent poets, writers, folklorists, journalists, pedagogues and jurists, as well as architects and has contributed a lot to Greece. It has been characteristically written that: "If in ancient times the wealth of Sifnos was measured in gold and silver, in the last two centuries it is measured in spiritual wealth". In particular, a large number of Sifnians contributed to the organization, social upgrading and development of the free Greek state: politicians, teachers, religious leaders, campaigners, poets, journalists, leading lawyers, economic agents, etc. Nikolaos Chrysogelos, who was a professor at the School of the Holy Sepulcher in Sifnos and subsequently became the Great Teacher of the Genus, taught and passed on the arts and letters to hundreds of young people. He developed a multifaceted activity for the uprising of the island and the shaking off the Turkish yoke. With the outbreak of the Revolution of 1821, he was the first to raise the flag of the Revolution in Sifnos. He was an honorary representative of Sifnos in the national assemblies. In recognition of his contribution, Kapodistrias appointed him Minister of Education and Religious Affairs and temporary Minister of Justice (1829). The literary school of Sifnos is today one of the great local schools with dozens of representatives, but also a multitude of folk poets who justify that Sifnos was characterized as an "island of poets", with Aristomenis Provelegios leading the way, academician and poet, Ioannis Gryparis, poet with Excellence in Letters and Arts from the Academy of Athens, Konstantinos Dialismas, leading pedagogue and writer, Iakovos Dragatsis, pedagogue and archaeologist, Apostolos Makrakis, theologian and philosopher, Nikolaos Dekavallas, PhD at the University of Athens with studied in Germany and compiled the Great Historical Dictionary of the Greek Language, Kleanthis Triantafyllos or Rabagas, satirical poet, Nikolaos Kampanis, journalist, Stelios Sperantsas, Theodosis Sperantsas, Aristos Kampanis, Antonios Manganaris-Dekavalle, Antonis Prokos, Titos Patrikios, Nikos G. Stafylopatis, who edited the Anthology of Sifnian poets and the Academy's award-winning collection of folk songs and kalanton, the playwright Manolis Korres, the folklorist Manos Filipakis, Barbara Filippaki, Simos Symeonidis, the Archimandrite Filaretos Vitalis, the great photographer Evangelos Pantazoglou, the folklorist Antonis Troullos, the writer Nikos Stavrianos and others.
Apollonia, Artemonas, Kastro, Ano Petali, Kato Petali, Faros and Vathy have been characterized as traditional settlements in Sifnos. The settlements of Sifnos are characterized by a diversity. The clearing in the area of the Castle has a purely defensive character. The settlement of the Castle maintains its medieval character unchanged with the narrow alleys full of carved marble sarcophagi, the loggias (gates through which one enters the settlement) and of course the ruins of the castle that dominated its top. Most of the houses are two- and three-story open. Most traditional settlements are concentrated on the central plateau of the island, as a result of which their boundaries are not separated, giving the impression of a continuous settlement without beginning and end. A traditional pedestrian path from Artemona reaches Katavati after passing through the settlements of Ano Petalio and Apollonia, while there is a paved connection with Ai Louka, Exampela, Kato Petali and Kastro. The area of Artemona is also famous for her mansions. On all the beaches, settlements have been developed parallel to the seashore. The first buildings were old potteries with kilns which were built near the beach in order to have direct access to boats to load the ceramics.
Many customs such as the traditional Sifne wedding, the "Lolopanigiro" in February, the "Kyr-Vorias" on the last Sunday of Halloween, the Lenten game "Tsounia", the carnival dances with camels, are special traditions of Sifnos with ancient roots and remain alive and unchanged to this day. On the last Sunday of Halloween in the forecourt of the church, the custom of the "Dance of Mr. North" is observed. It dates back to ancient times and it is said that the inhabitants used this way to appease the wind. The faithful drag the dance in disguise, while the dance is led by the parish priest.
THE CUSTOM OF KYR VORIA
In Artemonas, on the last Sunday of Shrove Tuesday, the custom of the Kyr-Boria dance is revived. The custom has existed since the pre-Christian years but has been integrated into the Christian tradition. The dance of Mr. North was danced in order for people to thank God that the winter is ending and with him Mr. North who rages on the island. The revival of the custom was done by monks in the 18th century and the dance was held exclusively in the courtyard of Panagia tis Konchis in Artemonas, always on the last Sunday of Halloween. No one had to miss the dance. The priest celebrated Vespers, then read the 'forgiving wish', the congregation passed in front of the priest who embraced one by one, forgiving him and then everyone embraced and forgave each other . The 'estrone' dance (estrone, dragged) the priest then the singers, the commissioners and the congregation and starting from inside the temple went out into the courtyard. During the dance, improvised poets sang couplets, some of them with thanksgiving to God but most of them with erotic content. The celebration was a good opportunity for the young men and women of the island to meet. Until 1940, when they prepared the wine of the year, they filled a clay jar (kouroupi) with wine and 'anointed' it as the 'kouroupi' for the dance of Kyr-Boria, and on the day of the dance, porters brought it to the celebration, where it was first opened and accompanied food and feasting. The dance ended with a wish for a new beginning of the year. After the war the custom waned to be revived in 1978 and has been celebrated every year since then with a few changes. For example, it is no longer performed in Panagia tis Konchis but in some chapel, improvised poets no longer exist and the dance is accompanied by traditional music. The condolence wish is also not read.
At Easter, which coincides with spring, Sifnos is at its best. Consecration services attract a large number of believers to the churches. The religious emotion culminates with eulogies and the procession of the Epitaph through the narrow streets. The resurrection "greeting" lasts for forty days. The housewives prepare the traditional "birds" (Easter buns in various shapes of animals and birds), decorated with red eggs. On Easter day, the burning of Judas takes place on Easter. The lamb here is roasted on the mastello, placed on a grill made of vines, with local red wine and dill. Homemade xinomyzithra and the delicious melopita, a local sweet made from honey, myzithra and eggs, are not missing from the festive table.
Editor: Fotini Anastasopoulou