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Maides custom in Makrinitsa

"Maides", which has taken its name from the most flowery month of spring, May, is a Pelian dance-mimic custom of the most famous and picturesque of Greek on 1st Day of May.

For the origin of this custom there are many opinions from those who have dealt with this issue. However, despite the foreign influences that this habit has accepted with the passage of time and because of the national adventures of Hellenism and the changes in living conditions, many of the manifestations of this custom, many of the "events" refer to the ancient Dionysian myths and the fundamental ritual features of nature worship in antiquity.

In these myths, particularly in the relevant with Adonis and Dionysus, we recognize numerous elements of Maides in Ottoman era and in later years. In many of these myths, like the myth of Maides, the main canvas is the same: one person is murdered, buried with a fresh branch or a flower in his hand and finally he resurrected under the influence of songs and dances by his friends.

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What was “Maides” and how did they celebrated it?
The Historian JOHN KORDATOS, who hails from Zagora of Pelion, informs us that this festival was a dramatic performance of 15-20 disguised men who had "May" in the middle of them, a young person dressed in flowers.
At some point, one of the young teased indecent the girl who followed the company and then the young man, who was dressed in skirts, the janissary, was shooting and "killed" the culprit. When the death of this man was confirmed by the accompaniment of May, the company put a flower on the "dead" and was starting, around him, a merry dance.
Into the wild pandemonium that was following, the "dead man" was resurrected, and he was following the playful companion. This was the basic plot of the myth.

Protagonist of the show was “May”. He had his body covered with ivy, laurel, honeysuckle, roses and many other flowers of the season and on his head wore a wreath of colorful flowers. In his hand was holding the "magioxylo" stick, full of flowers and fruit, a symbol of the renewal of nature and life. "May" was not alone in this customary feast: men were dancing around him (as once in Dionysus feasts, Satyrs, goats, Silenus and Nymphs), the Zeimpekia, dressed in festive red embroidered waistcoats and salvaria (breeches) with wide
belts filled with swords and pistols and tall fez full of tassels.

Other members of this spring troupe, which was celebrating the nature at its most beautiful moment, are the groom (Janissary) dressed with fustanellas, velvet vest, red fez and the sword in the waist, the bride who is dressed up like a man with a rich mustache, Chotzas (Turkish priest) with loose robe and turban, the gypsy and his wife with charred faces and legs.
Also, in this dance-mimic performance participated the bear-man with his bear, which was actually a man in disguise with lamb skins, the doctor who helped in the resurrection of the dead or helped the bride to give birth to her baby and the Gypsy woman, when they felt the pains of childbirth and finally the devil or the little devils, who wore black clothes and had a tail and horns.

This custom, which for centuries was rooted in the tradition of Pelion people, was celebrated for eight days.
“Maides”, during the Turkish occupation, were descending from Makrynitsa with clarinets and drums to Volos, at Kastro that was inhabited by the Turks, and they were giving a performance in front of them with songs and dances and the mimic-drama "death- resurrection" and within a hilarious atmosphere and with the Turks to stand all around, they succeeded their basic purpose: to take the license to freely begin wandering in the villages of Pelion and to start the Dionysian festival in the village squares they were visiting.
On May 8, however, they had to return to their base and attend the feast of St. John and there, in the temple, they were unfolding the last phase of the show, making the festival funnier.
This custom, the meanings and the symbolisms of which are many, received many effects with the passage of time which are obvious and its age is verified.
It ceased to run in 1911, the era of Balkan wars, but it revived in 1957 and after a short pause continued in recent years with the Community’s contribution and villagers’ willingness.


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