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Festivals and fairs (1)

Customary

The Wedding of Pelion

  The Pelioritic Wedding consists of a series of traditional customs which indirectly suggest and express the union, the total participation and identification of the guests from all the village with the new couple. Simple, joking, tolerant and poetic words and expressive gestures.
  Popular road theatre and dancing. Moments from the past, transport by animals, offering sweets and tsipouro, which not only teach us a lot about our ancestors but offer a live experience.
  In this way tradition is not a museum object nor a dream. It is the expression of living beings and small dramas which exist in our collective unconscious. The conversation with the bride and bridegroom whose names have been forgotten, is continuous, whispered and direct.
  The revival of the traditions of the Pelioritic wedding are the most important event and also the closing ceremony of the cultural festival.
  This effort started in the sixties from a group of local residents, aiming to preserve and diffuse the wedding customs in Pelion, as they were in the past. From then on and for 27 years, with few exceptions, the revival of the wedding customs is held during the second half of August, with the participation of many local residents from the village and from all over the area.
  One year in fact a real wedding was actually celebrated, because a local couple chose to be united by marriage in the traditional way. Also other couples who on various occasions played the role of bride and bridegroom in the revival of the Pelioritic wedding successively were married. So, further to preserving and diffusing the tradition, the revival of this custom brought luck to some couples.
  The engagement ceremony, which always precedes the wedding in Pelion, takes place in the «Melina Merkouri» square in front of the two Pelioritic rooms belonging to the bride and bridegroom which have been constructed on purpose with all the old house implements, which are gathered from the old mansions of Portaria.
  The Pelioritic wedding began eight days before the Sunday on which the ceremony was celebrated. It started with the custom of cutting the wedding dress which took place in the bride's home. The wedding dress was not white as is the fashion nowadays, but consisted of the traditional costume of Pelion.
  The wedding was organized by the "Bratimia" (the special friends of the bride and brodegroom). On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday friends and relatives were involved in gathering and arranging the dowery.
  Afterwards came the "flouring" according to this custom the bridegroom with the "Bratimia" visited the bride's home and threw flour on the dough from which the wedding cake would be made. Of course first they were given silver coins. With the same flour they would sprinkle the bride and bridegroom so that they would grow old with white hair.
  On Friday the "Keratzides" (cart-drivers) with musical organs and their horses gaily decorated, carried the dowry through the picturesque cobbled streets and finally reaching the central square where the wedding dress is cut. On Sunday the bridegroom is shaved, with the accompaniment of gunfire, the first "bratimo" is offered sweets by the bride and the announcement is made that the wedding will commence. The bride starts out, followed by a procession, the bride and bridegroom return, the wedding feast, the bridegroom is hung by the "Bratimia", the bride makes votive promises, the pitcher is filled from the fountain in the central square, the pitcher is then broken, and finally the bridegroom buys all the necessary items for the new household.
  The closing ceremony is accompanied by satirical verses. After one week the newly married couple are invited to the bridegroom's house for dinner.
  This revival is an effort made by the Cultural Association of the Municipality so as to preserve the customs and the traditional heritage of our region. It offers the occasion to the older generation to remember and the younger people to learn how weddings were celebrated in Pelion in the old days. It is a wedding completely different from any other, and the only one for which you can wish to see it again next year!
  During both evenings visitors can watch traditional folklore dancing from Pelion and other parts of Greece, by the dance group «ORMINIO».
  In the central square an exhibition of local products is held, in a specially planned space, also local wine and tsipouro are offered to everybody, accompanied by snacks, becuase at a wedding all the guests must be made welcome.
  The event is followed by a popular feast.

This text is cited September 2004 from the Municipality of Portaria URL below, which contains images


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