Περιφερειακή Ενότητα Δράμας

GreekEnglish (United Kingdom)BulgarianGermanFrenchRussianTurkish

Cultural Events


 Folk culture of Drama region, as the entire northern area of Greece, is notable, not only for the wealth and power of its single forms, but also 1for the survival or the historic remnants of the ancient Greek and Byzantine tradition on it. There are traditional customs of particular significance, which are presented in festivals and events throughout the year or in seasonally critical times, which reveal religious piety, combined with a wide range of popular tradition, as it is transmitted from generation to generation. It should be 2laudatory noted that dwellers of Drama show great respect for local tradition, which remained robust in this border region and in difficult times of slavery or sneaking by other nations. Uprooted generations from Eastern Thrace, Pontus and other regions of Hellenism, have the same respect for tradition and found hospitality and affection in Drama, staying permanently in this second home - as creative members of the local community.
The customarily days of Epiphany, with a series of events, have a great interest, due to disguises, bells, 3songs, dances, performances and a variety of imaginative representations. All the evidence, reveal the primary purpose of these events - to achieve, indeed, a happy new year - be healthy and have a productive harvest. Volakas, Kali Vrysi, Monastiraki, Xiropotamos, Petroussa and Pyrgi, are the highlights of spectacular4 traditional celebrations – which remind us Dionysus’s cult - these days.
People wear around their waist heavy bells. «Tsoliades» play the same important role in this event, wearing the national costume and «Giliges», as well, wearing the local female costume. All together, having lyres and tabors (traditional musical instruments), walk around the houses of the village, giving and receiving wishes.
In the afternoon, takes place a big community dance in the village square. Imitative plowing and virtual sowing, show obviously how to achieve a happy new year.
In the same village, the following day, January 8, there is a representation of the local wedding. That 8day, make their appearance the known «Bears» - men, dressed with animal skins. We note that this day, in Volakas, is dedicated to «midwife», who is visited by mothers, bringing gifts to her. It is a custom that retains elements from similar ceremonies of ancient times, with a strong fertility character - as were Thesmoforia and Aloa (ancient ceremonies).
In Petroussa, masquerades take place on the two days after Epiphany, 7 and 8 January. The main element of the celebration is the procession of a camel – which6 nowadays, it is a virtual one, however, in the past, it was a real one - through the village with lyres (stringed musical instrument) and dacharedes (percussion musical instrument). The second day, villagers present a wedding scene, bringing cheer and joy to everyone there.
In Xiropotamos, on January 7, are presented the known «Arapides», similarly, as in Monastiraki. Local dances take place, too, in the evening. Similar to the above custom, there are disguises, as well, in Pyrgi - on the day of Epiphany and the following - with animal skins, bells and an all-night spree.
In Kali Vrysi, events of these days have a more structured form, during a celebratory traditional weekend – which begins on Epiphany Eve with a ceremonial dinner for the members of each family.
«Babougera», is the highlight show, with men dressed as animals, wearing heavy bells round their waist. 7They appear just after the ceremony of sanctification, wearing their impressive costumes and making loud noise, wiggling the heavy bells. They dominate in the entire village, on the day of Epiphany and the following two. The recent revelation of a temple, dedicated to the worship of Dionysus, has affected events of Kali Vrysi. Thus, it appears an event with Dionysus elements, being operated in its natural 5environment. During the twelve days, in villages (Sitagri, etc) - where refugees from Pontus, who live there permanent – is presented the custom of «Momogeri», a kind of folk traditional theatrical play, the prime target of which is to achieve a happy new year and then, to entertain.
The representation of marriage is a common and beloved sight of the folk rituals. Before it gets the today's cheerful nature, virtual wedding ceremony was a magical act that intended to evoke the fertility force for the crops’ fruition and the herd increase. In ancient times, there was a historical element of the symbolic sacred marriage for having a successful harvest – as being a part of the official Dionysus cult - on the second day of Anthesteria (annual celebration, in honor of God Dionysus). In modern 9representations, dominates the playful element, as it follows the customarily local wedding in all of its phases: shaving the groom, dressing the bride - that usually performs a man - nyfoparma, farewell of her relatives, transfer of dowry, wedding procession led by musical instruments, coronation, greeting the newlyweds with an offer of banknotes, pinned to their chests and finally, a wedding party.

There is also some novelty or inventive adaptations to modern reality. In11 Kali Vrysi, for example, the man, who pretends to be the priest, escaping from the imitation of religious ceremony, prefers the process of civil marriage, with cheerful exhortations to the couple for love and mutual obedience:
George, love the beautiful Vasila, who everybody speaks in praise of her beauty, do not leave her, George, complained.
And you, Vasila, love your handsome George, take care of him, do not leave his tummy hungry and as a result, he leaves you for the neighbor, asking her for honey to eat.
But there is a common chalice, even in the form of ouzo bottle. There are also the traditional marriage buns with their ritual and glorious supervision.

The Carnival period is linked with various customs in Drama, many of which are characteristic of the 10traditional lifestyle, as in the past with banquets, forgiving each other, etc. Here, the main customarily feature, of course, is disguises, which have an urban character now, with assimilated traditional elements. The main expression of the modern urban carnival celebration represents the Carnival Festival of Choristi village, on Ash Wednesday (Shrove Monday), which the custom of traditional disguises and various performances and reenactments were used from the past.
The local music-dramatic club «Macedonia Reborn» - which has a rich cultural and national action – helps a lot for the successful organization of the Carnival Festival.

During the Carnival season, visitors of Drama have the opportunity to attend Monday's Tyrini (on this 12specific day, people can eat dairy products, but no meat – according to the fasting that Orthodoxy defines), in Kalabaki and Mavrolefki, one of the most important events for having a happy new year of the Greek historic site, known as «Kalogeros» (Good Old Man). «Kalogeros», which represents the good spirit of vegetation and fruitfulness, is disguised with old clothes, mimicking animal skins and by bells, too - one of which has a phallic significance.

Along with other disguised people, «Kalogeros» visits with a certain customarily typical, houses of the village, where the women sprinkle him with many grain seeds - 13symbols of rich production. After his visits, there is a mimetic plowing, virtual sowing, virtual death and resurrection of «Kalogeros» -all these are phases of the same event, with the initial purpose – for having a happy new year.
Circular dance on the plowed and seeded earth brings back this act from the past, which many researchers deduce that is one of the Dionysian rites of antiquity.
In the following Carnival period, it is worth the celebration of the Saints Theodori, in Kato Nevrokopi, at a small temple, located at an altitude of 1,800m. People, who celebrate, go there and stay all the night in a cave. This 14day in Nevrokopi and in other villages of Drama prefecture, is linked with magic, especially from women, who want to know their future husband lives.
On March 1 - the first day of the year in the ancient times - proliferate in many villages of the prefecture, the known «Chelidonisma», which was a melodic welcome of the swallow and spring, with wishes for a happy new year.
The Easter period in Drama has its own customarily interest, which begins on Lazarus Saturday, with groups of children, singing for the Passion of Christ's friend.
During Easter days, the Resurrection icon’s procession, around the farmland of Kali Vrysi, on Thursday after Easter has a special interest, to protect the village from the evil, especially from the hail that is extremely dangerous for farming production, during the spring.
15The next day after Easter – Friday – Zoodochos Pigi is celebrated in many villages, as Prosotsani, Kallifytos and Monastiraki, where the religious celebrations are combined with significant local cultural events.
Thomas Monday, after Easter, is a special day for Sitagri, where the established refugees from Pontus keep the ancient customs of their birthplace, as visits to graves, to distribute red eggs and sweets with songs – customs, which have clearly archaic form and metaphysical beliefs and perceptions.
There is another special event, called «Day of God», in Mikropoli, after Easter, in the chapel of St. George, where many people are gathered for the feast. This is linked with the local tradition and it is considered as a continuation of the old primitive fulfillment offering.
Religious and customarily Easter celebrations in Drama -with their own traditional custom character - end 17with the feast of Holy Spirit, so that Volakas celebrates with a feast at Holy Spirit church on Falakro Mount, with expenses of the Municipality, dances, songs and a scenic returning home on decorated horses and the constant bells’ sound of the village churches.
In the spring, on May 2, in the Feast of St. Athanasios, there are traditional horse races of great interest in Doxato, which took place, since the days of theTurkish rule and were linked with the liberation struggles in the region.

Mavrolefki, annually attracts many visitors, who come to watch «Anastenaria». This paradox, as it is characterized, it is a custom, which 16is performed on May 21, in honor of the Saints Konstantinos and Eleni (Constantine and Helen).
Main features of the above-mentioned custom is the long ecstatic dance to the accompaniment of the lyre and tabor, ritual animal sacrifice and fire walking of celebrators - who impress everyone there, dancing on the coals, without being burned.
The fire walking, as a custom, is repeated on May 23 and it gives so, the opportunity to watch it carefully and more comfortably. We note that fire walking, of a non great publicity, takes place the evening of January 17, which is a kind of «yeast» - as the operators say - for the great celebration in May.

18In several villages of Drama, as in other places - especially in northern Greece – it is used to take place, in customarily Saints’ celebrations, the known «kourbani», which is a kind of Municipality’s expanses sacrifice festive event and keeps alive ancient religious practices and beliefs.

In some villages, «kourbania» (in plural), are presented with particular intensity, as in Kalambaki by Thracians - who are established there - on the celebration day of St. Athanasios - on January 18 – and in Monastiraki, the first Monday after the day of Christ Ascension (according to Orthodoxy). In Monastiraki, «kourbani» has a great interest, because it is associated with the so-called «aretsi», which is an auction of various species to strengthen economically the church fund.

Apart from the sacrificial performances of Saints’ celebrations, «kourbania» are widespread in Drama and we 19find people organize them, when they build new houses, to ensure their strength and safety of the owners - in accordance with ancient beliefs.
In many villages, people used to bring the first grapes of the season to the church, in order to be blessed by the priest, on Transfiguration feast - August 6. This custom is clearly a survival of ancient practices, such as the offering of the first fruit to the gods. There is also a presentation of the first wheat crop in the church, on the Saints’ feasts, to ensure health.
Spectacular and interesting, as well, are customarily bonfires - lit on certain religious holidays or transient periods of time - taking ritual and festive character, with dancing and singing around them and with song wishes for being healthy and for a happy new year, too.


Such customarily bonfires are lit on the St. Athanasios feast (Monastiraki), March 1 (Volakas, Kallithea, Monastiraki, Pagoneri, Petroussa), Sunday Shrovetide (Grammeni, Kali Vrysi, Kallithea, Prinolofos), St. Ioannis (John), a day before June 24 (Doxato, Platanovrysi, Choristi).
These bonfires - with the ancient belief in the cleansing and purifying power of fire - emphasize, as other traditional celebrations, the deep roots of local folk culture, which, in the border of Drama region, continues to be today, a humanistic value and a life philosophy; even it has been influenced by the modern urban reality.