'The internet and the social media often served to praise, remind and transmit ICH in coronavirus restricted Greece'

Panagiota Andrianopoulou - Ethnologist - UNESCO facilitator

In Greece, the first coronavirus restrictions imposed in early March were primarily felt in the ICH field, as the Hellenic Ministry of Health, aiming to limit crowded get togethers, and banning the spring carnival festivities organized throughout the country.

Τhe municipal authorities deferred to the governmental instructions and numerous scheduled excursions and visits were cancelled. Yet the vibrant side of ICH creatively maintained the communitarian bonds, declaring its persistence and contributing to social cohesion during this harsh period: the internet and the social media often served to praise, remind and transmit ICH in coronavirus restricted Greece.

We gleaned four examples of alternative ICH enactments from urban and provincial milieu – with the prior consent of the community’s and ensembles’ representatives. _

_1. “#menoumespiti__: The Lazarines of Aiani Kozanis this year are staying in our homes, to remain safe and healthy but we don’t forget our customs and we are waiting for you in Aiani next year”.
In numerous villages of the geographic department of Macedonia, Northern Greece, on Saturday before the Holy Week, the rituals and vivid oral traditions of Lazarines are enacted. Girls and unmarried young women, dressed in their local festive costumes, walk through the village singing and thus announcing Easter and spring time. The festivity aims to bring luck and fertility to the community and to protect from the evil eye. In the village of Aiani, Kozani region, the practice bears the unique characteristic of tranos xoros (big dance), performed spontaneously by the Lazarines in the central square of the village, with the participation of the local community. This year the tranos xoros, as well as the village walk, were officially cancelled. The Cultural Association of Aiani, together with the village women, launched a video about their custom, inviting at the same time to respect the quarantine measures.

2. #παραΜένουμε_ομάδα#χορεύουμε_σπίτι
The Lykeion Ellinidwn is inextricably active in traditional dance transmission in Greece, for almost 110 years. The dance courses asking not only for physical presence but also for close body contact and interaction among dancers, were suspended during the quarantine - and still are. The LE annex in Thessaloniki took the step of “dancing together, as an ensemble, but from our homes”. 29 dancers and 6 musicians were filmed in their homes or courtyards performing a well-known dance from Northern Greece: a white kerchief (mandili) or a glass of local distillation (tsipouro) went imaginary from hand to hand through window-screens. The video, created in two weeks, in a voluntary and spontaneous way, was released on social media the 27 April and in a week it had received 32.000 views on Facebook, 1000 views on Instagram, not to mention its YouTube version. The lock-down, heavily stroke traditional music and songs, as courses and concerts were cancelled for more than two months.

3. Yiannis Zarias, professional violinist and academic professor at the Department of Music Science and Art of Thessaloniki, orchestrated and Panos Iliopoulos edited 100 professional and amateurs violinists and cello players performing a characteristic tune from the Cyclades islands, named Balos Quarantine.

4. Kostas Tsarouchis, professional oud player and teacher, initiated in October 2019 an experimental orchestra of musician apprentices. During the confinement they shared their orchestral experiences through a music composition.

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