New Year’s Custom of Momogeroi Revived in Thessaloniki (video)

The old New Year’s Eve ritual of Momogeroi was enacted in central Thessaloniki on Saturday afternoon, with hundreds of people in costume celebrating the coming of 2017.

The Momogeroi ritual depicts the coming of the new year as the rebirth of nature in a satirical way. The revellers wear traditional costumes or animal skins and are made up to appear elderly. They carry swords, bells and drums.

The main ritual has three protagonists and twelve dancers. The three protagonists include: a man made up to appear elderly; Kiti Gotsa, who represents the year about to pass, a bride, who represents nature and its rebirth, fertility, longevity and good health, and in the Greek tradition a man dressed in black represents an αράπης who symbolizes the new year.

In the ritual the bride is alternatively kidnapped by the new year and the old year. The twelve dancers symbolize the twelve months of the year and the whole troupe play instruments, dance and sing carols.

When different troupes of Momogeroi meet, they engage in a mock war.

The Momogeroi ritual goes back to ancient times and is linked with Greek god Dionysus. It takes place mostly in Macedonia and northern Greece. Today it is celebrated mostly by Pontian Greeks.