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Carnival on Skyros

From the beginning of the Triodion (the three-week Greek Carnival period) and each week-end during Carnival, the island’s customs requires the "Yeros"(old man) and the "Korela"(young girl) to go out in the streets and add their own special touch to the occasion. The "old man" wears a thick black cloak, white breeches and has two or three rows of bells tied around his waist, the weight of which can even reach up to 50 kilos. His face is covered with a small goat’s fleece and he dances in the streets, so that the bells his is wearing jangle melodiously.

The "Korela", the old man’s partner, who also has her face covered, is dressed in the traditional white costume of Skyros in striking contrast with the “Old man’s” black color She dances round the old man as he walks, opening the way for him or trying to help him and get him to rest.

The most skilled “old men”, leave the streets of the market for a while, where most people gather, and go up to the island’s Castle. There they will ring the bells in the Monastery of Agios Georgios.

Then while the "Yeros" will stop to take a rest, the “Korella” will sing to him a traditional song of Skyros, praising him for his virtues and his qualities. Many times, a third figure, the “Frank”, accompanies the Carnival couple. The “Frank”, who wears traditional costumes of the island of Skyros as well as trousers, is making fun of all those islanders that stopped wearing knickers and preferred western trousers (Frankika).

The origin of this custom is lost in the mists of time and many scholars believe that it has Dionysian roots, a relic of ancient Bacchic celebrations.

The elderly of the island say that the "Yeros" and the "Korella", come every year to remind islanders of a natural disaster which destroyed all the flocks of the island, whereupon a shepherd girded himself with the bells of his sheep and goats and went to the village to warn the others about the disaster.

Another Carnival celebration of Skyros is the "trata", which reenacts the life of sailors. The performers, who most of them are fishermen, satirize in rhyme situations and events regarding life in Greek society in general.
With these satirical verses, but also with their costumes, the performers manage to amuse the spectators of this performance, which reaches its peak on the last Sunday of the Carnival.

On Ash Monday, almost all the inhabitants of Skyros, dressed in traditional local costumes, gather in the square of the village, where they sing and dance local songs.

 

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