Momoeria, New Year's celebration in eight villages of Kozani area, West Macedonia, Greece

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Inscribed in 2016 (11.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage Directorate, Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs

From December 25 to January 5 in Kozani (north-western Greece), dancers, actors and musicians can be seen performing in village streets and visiting people’s homes to celebrate the coming of the new year. The Momoeria dancers, a group made up of 30 male performers, are a special focus. They represent the priests of Momos (god of laughter and satire) or commanders of Alexander the Great wearing helmets, pleated skirts, traditional shoes and brandishing sticks dancing under their leader’s command to convince the powers of nature not to endanger the livelihood of villagers. Actors surround the dancers performing a well-known satirical play featuring characters like an old man and the devil (this can vary among villages) who the audience is invited to tease creating a fun atmopshere. Instruments like the bagpipe play in the background. The practice is mainly to wish the community prosperity in the year ahead, including healthy offspring and good harvests but now also encourages the sustainable management of natural resources. Festivities culminate in the town square with everyone singing and dancing around a fire until morning. Transmitted informally from older to younger generations, it symbolizes part of the community’s cultural identity and helps to build social integration.

Momoeri dance in a village house yard, with the 'bride' they 'protect' in the middle of their circle, where is also lurking 'the devil', Tetralofos village
The 'old woman' pretends that she cannot walk, so one of the spectators is obliged to carry her in his back. Agios Demetrios village
Momoeri visiting one be one all the houses in their village, Tetralofos village
The treats and 'tsipouro' (local alcoholik drink) are ready to be offered to the Momoeri, after they finish their performance that brings prosperity and happiness in the house they visit, Karyohori village
The procession of Momoeri walks through the village, going from one house to the next, Karyohori village
Momoeri enjoy the treats and 'tsipouro' after they have danced in the house-yard, Karyohori village
The spectators and 'the devil' cooperate to reveal the hiding place where the 'abductor' keeps the 'bride', Tetralofos village
Momoeri dance in the yard of a house, Tetrafolos village
After the Momoeri and the theatrical team have finished their performance, a big feast is held in the central square of each village, Tetrafolos village
'The doctor' 'examines' not only 'the bride', but the spectators as well, Thessaloniki