After going out earlier in a drizzle to shop at the Saturday outdoor market, I am waiting here with baited breath to see if it will rain again in Naousa this afternoon. Everybody plans to be out with barbecues in the street 2 days before Lent starts. I also expect frolicking satire/dancing to the music of zournades (think clarinet) and daoulia (think bass drum). The Naousa holiday theme is "One City, One Celebration." While $$$ times are very tough, the people here are all-in for a good time all Carnival week thru Clean Monday.
The worst days of one of the harshest winters on record (down to - 17C!) seem to have passed, and my studio apt is now fully heated (costing more than the rent!) -- but bad luck vis-à-vis the weather continues. Last 3 days it has been sunny and around 65F, but now the forecast says rain/50F tomorrow, a VERY important day. But that won't deter anyone from celebrating the historic rituals/traditions that go back centuries.
"Yenitsari and Boules" are men in special costumes, who during the Ottoman Empire danced through the streets under the guise of Carnival to collect money to buy supplies and then go into the mountains to fight for Independence. So both Sundays start with a ritual dressing of each "soldier" in his family home by his parents, some accessories being sewn on right then. When his "boulouki" (think platoon) comes to fetch him, he greets them, does his cross, kisses his mother goodbye, and joins the group to go collect others. Then they go to the Town Hall for permission from the mayor to dance through the town on a special route so never-changing that it printed on a map. At 5 o'clock they reach stop #8 Allonia -- the neighborhood where my Dad grew up -- and take off the special "faces"(masks) crafted primarily of wax. They dance, and then so does everyone else. Opa!
Such an amazing and moving spectacle that I had only known superficially till now. During my time at the Farm School 68-78, I did visit Naousa a few times for a day or two. But living here the whole week -- Yenitsari without masks dancing through the town every day! -- I really get how proud the people of Naousa are of this unique tradition...and how dedicated, resilient, and fun-loving they are. And I am proud of them, too.
(Just wonder what Efstathios Xanthopoulos would think of all this...)
from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.