Laura's Blog

Greek Fire 10. The power of the women's Tsámikos

Thursday, January 28, 2021

At dozens of weddings I've attended in Greece over the years, my favourite part is when the older women lead the ritual dance. At some point during the proceedings, the mothers (and grandmothers!) of the bridal pair will invariably each take a turn as the first dancer at the head of the line. In the islands this is likely to be a Syrtós, in the Peloponnese a Kalamatianós, and on the mainland a Tsámikos.

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Greek Fire 9: Greek dance as sacred space

Thursday, January 21, 2021


Another thing I love about life in Greece is the way that traditional dance is so naturally integrated into the community. Dancing has a respected place in Greek Orthodox religion, in stark contrast to the church of Rome and its many bans on dancing throughout history. Every Orthodox church has a dance place in front of it, where the priest leads the ritual circle dance at Easter, weddings, and the annual panegyri, the name day festival for the church's patron saint.

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Greek Fire 7. Theophánia, rituals of protection and purification

Thursday, January 7, 2020

I am writing this on January 6th, Epiphany, known here as Theophánia or Ta Fóta, the Festival of Lights. It is the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and one of the most important festivals in the Greek Orthodox Church. In normal times, people would gather at the seaside for the Blessing of the Waters, in honour of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River and the revelation of his divinity. The priest would throw a cross into the sea (securely tied to a string) and youths would dive to retrieve it, competing to show their strength and skill, hoping to gain luck and honour.

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Greek Fire 8. Healing makams and the 'lost frequencies'

Thursday, January 14, 2020

Music is the main thing which brought me to Greece. 

I grew up with music: my mother was a pianist, and her hours of daily practice were the soundtrack to my childhood. Sometimes my parents would play duets, wonderful moments of peaceful cooperation and beautiful sounds. Their great love of music kindled in me a lifelong appreciation of the emotional power music can have on its listeners. 

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Greek Fire 6. Vasilópita, luck-bringing bread of the Greek New Year

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Πάει ο παλιός ο χρόνος, ας γιορτάσουμε παιδιά  
Και του χωρισμού ο πόνος ας κοιμάται στην καρδιά. 
Καλή χρονιά, χρονιά πολλά, χαρούμενη χρυσή Πρωτοχρονιά...

The old year is leaving, let us celebrate, friends! 
And may the pain of separation go to sleep now in our hearts. 
A good year, many years, happy golden new year!

– Greek New Year carol

In recent posts I've been writing about ceremonial bread as a link between the life-giving power of women and the life-giving power of the earth, in women's dances and traditions of rural Greece. Following this theme, today I want to write about Greek New Year customs, including St Basil's Bread, the luck-bringing vasilópita.

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