On 6 January, the day the Epiphany is celebrated, the Divine Liturgy is succeeded by the sanctification of the waters, with the priest throwing the Crucifix into the sea at the Port. The young men of the island, aboard boats surrounding the area where the Crucifix is to be thrown, jump into the sea to catch it. The lucky young person who does so and his companions then take the Crucifix and pass by all of the homes, with residents paying it their respects and rewarding the winner with a few coins.
The onset of the ‘Triodi[o]’ [the three weeks of Carnival before Lent] also signalled the start of the ‘Apokraiomata’[Carnival-related events]. For the duration of Carnival, women and children would remain at home during the day, while men would go to work.
In the evening, however, everyone would eat together, sing various Carnival songs, dance the ‘Ayeranos’, dress as mummers and go to other homes participating in the Carnival.
They would prepare ravioli and a berry spoon dessert, and would usually cook meat braised in tomato sauce with spaghetti. This does not mean, however, that a great celebration could not be set off by just single herring!
The last weekend and on Clean Monday, the celebration would last three days and nights. The revellers would gather at one home, two or three families together, and the partying could be heard at every corner of the island.
On the evening of the Sunday of Tyrini, they would hard-boil an egg and tie it a string, suspending it from the ceiling in the middle of the room.
The egg would spin round and round, and the revellers, hands behind their backs, would try to catch it using their mouth. They would close out the Carnival period by eating eggs, only to break their fast again at Easter with a red egg, immediately following the Resurrection.
On Clean Monday morning, they would knead unleavened bread, and would wash all of the dishes and cutlery using lye.
Together in large groups, they would eat seafood and other Lenten foods. They would dress up as ‘unmasked’ mummers, smearing their faces with cinders, and would go around the entire village dancing and singing.
The custom continues to this day, with a carnival celebration in the village square.
Women’s Society of Antiparos (pub. 2010), Maerotskalismata: Tastes and Aromas from Antiparos, p 51.
On Lazarus Saturday, the women would knead and make ‘Lazarakia’ [literally ‘little Lazaruses’—shortbread biscuits shaped like a deceased Lazarus with arms crossed] and ‘vayiofori’ [small icons of Christ to be decorated with palm tree branches]. The priest would prepare crosses out of palm tree branches and olive branches, and would hand these out at church on Palm Sunday. The children would play and sing:
‘On Palm [Sunday], Palm [Sunday] we eat fish and mackerel
and on the next Sunday
we break our fast with lamb
with a flask of wine…’
During the entire Holy Week they would go to church, both in the morning and in the evening.
On Holy Thursday, homemakers would dye eggs and decorate them with designs made using flower petals and daisies, or would write various wishes on them using chlorine. They would knead and make ‘kotsines’ [braided shortbread], ‘koulouria’ [shortbread biscuits] and a big ‘kouloura’ [braided bread] with five red eggs and various designs created using dough. On the same day they would also make the sweet ‘tyropites’ [cheese pies]. The entire village would have a wonderful scent. They would also slaughter the ‘provzasto’ [sheep]. They would pluck the little feet and the head. They would turn the small intestines inside-out, and wrap them around the legs.
On Holy Saturday they would boil the head and feet, and after the Resurrection service ended they would eat, following a long fast.
Easter Sunday was a fun day for the children, as they would play ‘kounies’ [swings].
They would tie swings to every tree and house beam, using long ropes. Most swings were tied to the tamarisk trees along the waterfront. As they would swing, they would sing ‘Christos Anesti’ [Christ Has Risen] and other little Easter-related songs:
‘How pretty Easter is
of all of the celebrations
it is when the Resurrection comes out
and the priests chant…’
Women’s Society of Antiparos (pub. 2010), Maerotskalismata: Tastes and Aromas from Antiparos, p 75.