Custom with balloons
In the traditional Leonidio, capital of the Kynouria District since 1845, one of the unique and most spectacular resurrected customs of Greece is being revived. Throughout this Easter period, the children of each parish ask for the financial assistance of the residents - by taking out a disk in the church - for the balloons. The children try to convince the elders to throw - into the trays - as much money as possible, to then buy glue, make more balloons so that their parish can come first in the balloon throwing competition. The night of the Resurrection in Leonidio is the night of the balloons. With the Resurrection of Christ, from the five parishes, the hot air balloons, the ones watered with oil and petroleum, catch fire.
The balloons are prepared by the children weeks in advance and from each parish one hundred to one hundred and twenty are released.. We do not know the origin of the custom, but the older ones remember that it started around 1910-1915. In recent years, the glues used to make the balloons come from Italy and are very durable. The usual colors are red, yellow, blue, green [and here the groups and parties have thrown their hands]. Then the top, the buttons, the dome of the balloon are made. They crease the two ends triangularly, cut them and then glue them with modern commercial glue, [in the past the glue was made from dough or flour paste]. This is followed by reeding, i.e. sewing a thin reed to the mouth of the balloon. A wire is placed criss-cross on the rod and the hook hangs on a hook exactly at the intersection of the wires. The lighting of the kollimara and the flying of the balloon only in Leonidio and at the moment when the priest chants Christos Anesti, has its unique value, nowhere else.
The most characteristic product of Leonidio is the famous Tsakoniki Eggplant, which is among the 317 European products with a protected designation of origin. The Tsakonic eggplant is the only one that has a sweet taste, due to the microclimate of the region and the non-use of pesticides, it also ripens earlier than other regions and its fruit is used in many combinations in cooking and confectionery, it is about 20cm long, diameter 4cm, its surface is smooth, shiny, purple in color with striations along, light purple in color. Wider known for its quality and taste is the traditional spoon sweet, the aubergine, which is made from an aubergine about 5cm long. At the end of August, every year, Leonidio's Tsakonic Eggplant Festival is organized. The celebration highlights the hard work of the residents of Leonidio and showcases the excellent agricultural products of the region, especially the sweet Tsakoniki Eggplant. The events include traditional dances and songs, food offerings and a food competition based on the Tsakonian eggplant.
(source: Municipality of Leonidio, South Kynouria)
The Festival of Saint George
It is about the revival of an ancient tradition with roots in antiquity where Hippos Poseidon, the chthonic god and Demeter, the goddess of vegetation and fruitfulness, were worshipped. A group of villagers climbs and then descends the 400 m from the hill of Goula (above Nestani), where the small church of Ai-Georgis is located, dancing like members of an ancient tragedy dance. The participants wear the traditional Tsipianitis costume and hold a glitza decorated at the top with lilacs, wild celery and other flowers. Descending from the chapel, they pass in front of the Monastery of Gorgoepikou, dancing and singing the song of Saint George. Then they arrive at the upper square of Nestani where they form large circles dancing syrto and singing chants reminiscent of the adventures of the Turkish occupation.
The mountain village of Serveu is located approximately 15 km from the town of Dimitsana, on the road to Vytina-Lagadia. During the Halloween season, the boules (disguised) improvise by choosing for their disguise old clothes, fustanelles and anything that can be used. People welcomed them into their homes and served them wine and sweets, trying to recognize them. On Saturday, dedicated to souls, women made "spiria" (boiled wheat) and took them to church. Then they would go to the cemetery and light candles for their dead. On Shrove Tuesday, they ate meat while on Tyrini they ate only dairy products without meat. On the last Sunday, the women made spaghetti, boiled it, layered it on plates with mizithra and fried it in hot fat. Dinner was topped with eggs cooked on the fire. They were placed upright in the ashes in a row, one for each. Whoever's egg was sweating meant that he was lazy. Whoever's egg was broken, it meant that his enemies were bursting. On Clean Monday the feast continued in the open air where people "broke the kouloumas" with fasting food. On Tuesday morning, the feast ended and the period of contemplation and waiting for Easter began.
Tyros, a town in the Kynouria district of the prefecture of Arcadia, is located between the foothills of Mount Parnon and the shores of the Myrtoos sea. Its name comes from the god Apollo Tyritis or Tyritas, patron of milk and cheese production. Ruins of his sanctuary are preserved near the village of Pera Melana. The Great Friday in Tire begins with the procession of the two epitaphs along the coastal road accompanied by fishing boats and boats of the visitors. On Holy Saturday, children fill the bay of the village from end to end with thousands of candles that light up the sea and symbolize the souls of sailors and fishermen who have been lost.
At the time of the Resurrection of the Lord, the Tsakone conjurers throw hundreds of fireworks. In the parish of Metamorfosis of Sotiros, one of the most spectacular customs of Greece, the burning of Judas in the sea on a special raft, has been held since the time of the Turkish occupation. The Tsakonian arsonists accompany the burning with flares and dynamite that light up Tyros from one end to the other.
In the parish of Agia Marina, on Easter Sunday, the Gospel is read in the Tsakonian dialect by the priests of Tyre. A feast follows in the central square with traditional dances (and the historical Tsakonic dance), with spits and local wine.
Prophet Elias Melano
On July 20, the saint celebrates in the chapel of the Prophet Ilias Melanon, located on the Hill of Ai Lia, southwest of Tyre. The inhabitants of Tire and the surrounding villages meet on the eve of the Hill where the Temple of Apollo of Tyritas was and revive the old festival with food and folk orchestra until the morning.
On July 27 in the locality of Pregasos, Agios Panteleimonas is celebrated. The festival is called Xanidas because the inhabitants used to collect the branches from here to burn the oven which gave a special baking for the successful preparation of bread and nuts. On the eve of Xanidas, people are offered plenty of food and wine for entertainment until morning.
In August, the Municipal Unit of Tire organizes the "Apollonia". Theatrical performances, dances, concerts, events in the Tsakonian dialect are organized as well as sports events such as the Apollonian road on the classical route, swimming competitions, Beach Volley and a summer sports learning camp for children aged 6-15.
Sailors' and Fishermen's Day
Every September in Tyre, the Sailors' and Fishermen's Day is celebrated in honor of those who worked and gave their lives practicing the professions of the sea. Tire maintains a 2500 year old maritime tradition. It is mentioned in the texts of ancient travelers from the time of Pausanias, Strabo and Stephen of Byzantium to Eviglia Celebi, the Turkish traveler of the 17th century.
Editor: Niki Kalopaidis