Below we will describe a number of customs of Kakopetria. Unfortunately, the majority of them, no longer exist.
Some days before Christmas, all the women of the village started preparing for the big feast.
The preparations included cleaning of the house, dusting and cleaning of the furniture. The housewives baked different kind of cookies in the mud-ovens and the men painted the outer walls of their houses.
On Christmas day, people went to the church. After the service they received communion and they exchanged wishes and kisses.
Thereafter, they returned to their homes and the entire family sat on the table for the traditional soup “avgolemoni” (made with eggs, lemon and rice) or trachana, in a pleasant environment.
The inhabitants of the village bought small pigs and raised them till Christmas when they killed them in order to make lountza (traditional smoked ham) and sausages. With its tummy, they made dry-salted meat (pasta) and with its feet and head they made “zalatina” (a kind of brawn). The sausages were hunged in the fireplace (tziminia) and it took them a long time until they were appropriate for eating. When the weather was good, they used to take the sausages in the yard of their houses so that the sun would help them to get cooked sooner. The parts of the pig, which were not used for the above, were semi-cooked and kept in “koumnia” (clay pots) with all their fat, which melted after cooking. This way they had supplies for a very long time.
New Year’s Eve
On New Year’s Eve, the housewives would prepare Vasilopitta (traditional pie) and put a coin in it. The pie would be cut in the afternoon of the New Year’s Day. The person, who found the coin, was considered the luckiest person of the year.
On New Year’s Day people went to church to attend to the service and when it was finished they exchanged kisses and wishes. The first day of the year, after the church, when people returned to their homes they traditionally stepped in with their right foot. It was believed that this would bring good luck for the rest of the year.
They also played cards (Shemes, Poka, Poker) in coffee shops and in different houses. This custom survives to this day.
On the day of the epiphany, all the housewives made “loukoumades” (fried honey puffs) and ate them with their families. One old tradition said that “kalikantzaroi” (goblins) came to the village and roamed at night scaring the people. So, women threw some “loukoumades” on the roofs of their houses believing that “kalikanztaroi” would eat them and leave the village quietly.
After the service, the priest of the village accompanied by a child went to all the houses and hallowed (sprinkled with holy water). The owners put in the bucket (where the holy water was kept) some coins for the child and the priest.
The lent period begins on the Sunday of the Prodian Son and continues till the Sunday of “Tyrofagos” (last day of the Carnival). Usually during this period, a lot of people masqueraded and went to friendly houses where they amused the owners. They also gathered in coffee shops where they ate, sang and danced.
The days before Easter all the houses were cleaned out and on Holy Thursday the housewives painted the eggs (usually red), which they would clink after the Resurrection service. On Holy Friday they prepared the rusks, the holy bread and the “flaounes” (pastry with cheese and raisins).
Saturday of Lazarus
On Saturday of Lazarus, groups of two, mainly young children went to all the houses of the village and chanted “Lazarus”. The housewives offered them eggs and money.
On Palm Sunday, women took leaves from olive trees to the church. The leaves would remain in the church until Pentecost when they would be hallowed and taken back home for the traditional “kapnisma” (literally smoking). Specifically, the leaves from the olive tree were put in the “kapnistiri” (earthen-plated vessel) with cinder and used for the “kapnisma” of the houses and people. This practice is considered as apostrophic for the evil spirits and it survives to this day.
On Holy Thursday, the holy icons of the church are covered with a black veil indicating the bereavement for the death of Christ. The same night, a replica of the holy cross with Christ on is set. On the right of the cross there is a replica of Apostle John and on the left another replica of Virgin Mary.
All the habitants of the village go to church and genuflect before the holy cross and attend to the service of the 12 gospels concerning the Passion of Christ, His Crucifixion and His death.
On Holy Friday the faithful decorates the epithaph. Young men and women chant the dirge (lamentation), while three myrrh-bearing women strew the epitaph with myrrh, aromas and flowers. During the night the procession of the epitaph takes place in the central roads of the village.
During the morning service of Holy Saturday, when the priest says “Anasta o Kirios” (Arise, O God), the faithful slam the church’s stools and the black veils, which cover the holy icons fall.
At eleven o’clock at night, the bells toll merrily in order to invite the Christians to the happiest service of the Christian church.
Outside the church there is a big fire, called “Lampratzia” (eastern bonfire). At midnight the priest says “ defte lavete fos ek tou anesperou fotos” (come forward and receive light from the eternal light) and comes out of the church with the lay clerks for the Procession. People light their candles from the holy light and they all go in the yard of the church for the Resurrection Ceremony.
After the service, people return to their homes, with their candles and keep the holy light for 40 days. They eat the traditional soup “avgolemoni” (made with eggs, lemon and rice) or trachana and flaounes. Then they clink their eggs saying “CHRISTOS ANESTI” “ALITHOS ANESTI”which mean, “Christ is risen” and “Truly he is risen”.
On Sunday, they make the traditional lamb on charcoals and they celebrate the day. In the afternoon, the Community Council organizes some events, including traditional games, such as “ligri”, “plaka”, “voskos” “zizirous”, “kouroupatsi”, “koutsia”, in the village’s plaza.
The matchmaker, a relative, or a close friend of the bride’s family made the “Proxenio”. A good groom was considered a man, who was rich, from a good family and diligent. If the groom came from another village, the parents of the bride went to his village and asked his fellow villagers for any information they wanted to learn about him or his family. Most of the times, the girl’s opinion was not taken into consideration.
Close relatives such as the groom and bride’s godparents, uncles and aunts, grandparents, brothers and sisters and the priest of the village were invited in the pre-engagement. The priest would prepare the prenup, which had legal validity. In the prenup the parents noted the marriage portion that they would give to their children. After the pre-engagement, there was a big party with plenty of food and songs.
Only a few people were invited in the engagement. During the engagement the relatives exchanged handkerchiefs and rings. The construction of the couple’s house was a responsibility of the bride’s parents. The construction of the house was not an easy job as it was built with stones, which were collected and transferred usually by the close relatives and the builders.
Preparations for the wedding
The preparations started one month before the wedding day. The invitations were given from the bridegroom’s parents with a special procedure. When they visited the houses to give the invitations, they offered to the owners a special kind of bread called “glistarka”.
Sunday (wedding day)
Dressing of the bride
In the afternoon of the wedding day, the relatives of the bride were gathered in her parents’ house for the bride’s preparation. The bridesmaids helped her wear her wedding dress, put her make up and jewels and make her hair, accompanied by musicians who played violin and lute. Then, her parents passed along her waist a red belt and they gave their bless for a happy married life.
The shaving of the groom
The early morning of the wedding day, the groom’s clothes were transferred form his parents’ house to the new house of the couple. The shaving of the groom took place in his parents’ house and it also included his dressing. The barber of the village, accompanied by violins, shaved him and his best friends combed him. The best man dressed him (shirt and costume), and in the meanwhile he sang with the other relatives, traditional wedding songs.
After the wedding and on the way to their new home, the couple was blessed by the neighbors who held “mereha” (bottle where they kept perfume) and “kapnistiri”. Later on, the couple stayed alone in their new home while the other relatives were celebrating.
The relatives of the couple “sewed” the bed. The festive atmosphere included violins, lutes, dancing, songs and “tsiatista” (traditional songs). The couple’s bed was filled with pure sheep’s wool and it was sewed by 5 or 7 women (who were married only once). During the sewing of the bed, the other relatives sang and the musicians continued playing. The bridegroom’s relatives put money on the bed (plumisma) as a gift for their wedding.
Thereafter, the groom’s closest friends and his best men danced (dance of the bed). Just before this dance, a young boy or girl was put on the bed of the bridegroom. People believed that if they put a boy on the bed, the first child of the new couple would be a boy and if they put a girl, then they would have a girl.
Monday after the wedding
On Monday after the wedding day, the guests had to make some special pies (“pittes”) and grape honey and take them to the couple’s house. They also brought a chicken and flour for the pasta.
In the afternoon the parents of the couple cooked for their guests. The girls made the pasta and sang different songs.
After the party, all the relatives and friends brought a big stone in the middle of the house and put another one on it making noise. The groom had to give them something to drink in order to make them leave. The same custom could be made with a big wood.
Tuesday after the wedding day
On Tuesday after the wedding day all the relatives of the couple had a big party.