Feasts and festivals. The Greek Panigiri.

Phyrne at the festival of Poseidon in Eleusina
Phyrne at the festival of Poseidon in Eleusina


All over Greece, the tiniest of churches in the tiniest of villages have a feast day, a jolly affair with a street markets, food vendors and in the evening a gathering, usually in the village square, or any spare bit of land large enough, where tables and chairs are informally set up.

 Whole pigs are roasted, huge plastic buckets filled with ice hold cans of beer and the main attraction of the evening, the band!

These celebrationa are called Panigiri in Greek, which more or less means having a right knees up!



Roast pork
Roast pork




Festivities
Festivities





The band
The band


 The band consists of a singer or two, bouzouki, bongo- like drums and the 'Piece de resistance' the clarinet.

As night falls,  tables fill, the band tunes up,  roast pork is served in paper, eaten with fingers, the beer drunk from cans or paper cups.
 As more and more beer is consumed the merrier and merrier thing become;

 People are handing song requests to the band, sticking money on the player's forehead, the higher the denomination of the note, the sooner you will hear your song, everyone is up and dancing to the deafening sound of the clarinet, the only other thing to be heard, the occasional  'opa' from the wild dancers.

It is a sight to be seen...and heard!



The dancers
The dancers


These celebrations continue all through the night into the early hours, you are not very happy if you happen to live near the area where this all happening.
There are many a sore head the next morning!

These shenanigans are the highlight of the festival, the leading up to it is going on all day, the market stalls selling anything imaginable from wellington boots to decorative candles, from pots and pans to underwear (usually in enormous sizes!)



Street market
Street market



Long live Britain
Long live Britain!



Nightwear
Nightwear


Every year there are the Russians with their 'Brocante', don't think the word antiques really fits the bill, vintage maybe.

These are my favourite stalls, I could browse for hours.



Any old iron?
Any old iron?



Brocante
Brocante

The two crystal and silver decanters at the back looked very interesting.



Tiffany style glass
Tiffany style glass



Bits and bobs
Bits and bobs


Russian wares.
Russian wares.



The nuns from the local Monastery with their honey and healing herbs
The nuns from the local Monastery with their honey and healing herbs



Handmade leather sandals.
Handmade leather sandals.


There is always food, souvlaki, corn on the cob, loukoumades and cold drinks galore.



Souvlaki
Souvlaki


Loukoumades
Loukoumades

Yesterday I took my Granddaughter Melina, she loved it, the word panigiri (the name of feasts and festivals in general) must sound to her like the word for Paris, Parisi as she told everyone Yia Yia (Grandma) was taking her to Paris...I wish!

This reminds me of my friend's son George, telling me he was going to kung fu....he was going to Corfu!

 She was as good as gold and didn't ask for everything in sight like my two children used to do, hmm, does that mean I had spoilt them?

 Papou (Grandpa) bought her a balloon and two sweet battery-operated toys, a dog and a rabbit, she had a great time making them kiss!


Mel
Mel



Kiss kiss
Kiss kiss



Underwear
See, I told you that the underwear always seems to be size XL !


 I noticed this year that the vendors of fake designer hand bags were not around, they are usually out in force.

 Maybe they were there another day, maybe the police had been making their rounds!

This picture is from last year.



Fake bags
Fake !

And no, I did not buy my bag here!



Greeker Than The Greeks
Thinking about the" Panigiri Pig"




They may not have been at the panigiri but they have been traipsing the beach all Summer, the police must not patrol there! They are everywhere in Greece.

 I think Italy is even worse, there they call them vu cumpra, when we were stranded in Rome for four days ( It should have only been one night, we should have been in Capri but that's a whole other story)  we spent the last afternoon sitting outside the Greco cafe (Don't those Greeks just get everywhere!).

We were entertained by watching the carryings on of the vu cumpra.
We had a view of two street corners, full of the vendors, their mobile 'phones would ring and off they shot, just disappeared, along would come the police and ten minutes later back  came the vendors.

They were obviously warning each other by 'phone.

Anyway back to the panigiri, I am going off on a tangent here, one of my traits, so my family and friends tell me! ( Is a trait a bad thing?)



Fake designer stuff
Fake designer stuff



Vu cumpra Rome
Vu cumpra Rome


We enjoyed our day at the Loutraki Panigiri, I have never missed one yet!
It seems to become smaller every year, is this because of the financial crisis here in Greece or is the tradition slowly dying out, I hope not the latter.



Eating candy floss at my first ever visit to a panigiri
Eating candy floss at my first ever visit to a panigiri


We bought our roast pork..."The panigiri pig" and will be eating it all week, last night I had a pork sandwich and today we had it cold with salad and homemade tzatziki, still some left, it's like the Christmas turkey!



Pork sandwich
Panigiri pig sandwich

  homemade tzatziki
 Again with my homemade tzatziki


       September 7th is the feast day of our local church, Panagia Giatrissa (Virgin Mary The Healer) Loutraki.


Panagia Giatrissa ( Virgin Mary The Healer)
Panagia Giatrissa ( Virgin Mary The Healer) all trimmed up for the festival.

The story about the Church and how it got it's name is fascinating.

Every summer a woman named Mary who was a midwife used to visit Loutraki for its spring waters. She stayed with her friend Maria Sokou.
 When Mary went to pray in the Holy Land, she brought Maria Sokou,   a present,  the icon of Virgin Mary with the baby Christ on her left side.

 In Jerusalem, the salesman had told Maria to give the icon to God-fearing people who believed in her and to light candles for her and an oil-lamp to burn all day and night because it was a miraculous icon.
 Mary told Maria Sokou all this.

 She also told her that 20 days after the  delivery of the icon she was to die, which She did!

The icon came into the hands of Sokou in 1928 and the residents of Loutraki decideD  to build a church for the icon.


 A committee was formed with the aid of the then bishop Damaskinos of Korinth, and they built the church on land  which was given by John Marras, opposite today’s church where the first church of Panagia Giatrissa was, which was so named because of the wondrous healing she performed.


The icon of the Virgin Mary.
The icon of the Virgin Mary.


Father Nikos
Father Nikos


The icon of The Virgin Mary paraded through the town in the evening, lead by Father Nikos , carried by the Poseidon handball team of Loutraki.




The icon Passing through the town centre
Passing through the town centre


We will be there again next year.

Weather permitting!

The saying goes, here in Loutraki;

 It always, but always rains on the day of the Loutraki Panigiri

And it usually does!


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