Special “Mitata” Celebration of Shepherds, Crete

A special celebration of shepherds and “mitato”  (sheperd houses) was the main event in Rethumno, Mylopotamos on Sunday.

In the high mountains of Mylopotamos, shepherds gathered with their families, friends and relatives in order to celebrate being a shepherd and their traditional way of living. They lit candles in a church of their Saint Mama and discussed their daily lives, the difficulties that they may face, their husbandry and the general situation in Greece.

The annual celebrations take place in a friendly environment and above all, everyone shows their hospitality and kindness to each other and to visitors. The festivities have been prepared days before and it is devoted to the traditional life and customs of shepherds in the Ida mountain region.

Early Sunday morning, shepherds went as usual to the old stone buildings called “mitata’  to take care of their livestock and produce milk products, while their wives were at home cooking. Delicious fresh food was prepared and plenty of good wine was available everywhere.

The shepherds and their families have to endure many difficulties but as they say, they insist on living there, because they want to honor the names of their fathers and the generations that lived in Ida. A  child whose father is a shepherd, mentioned that they wish to always be in good health and capable of working so as to honor their lives.

Mitata, although some of them are deserted today, are the second home of the shepherds and this word means originally “shelter soldiers”. Today, they are considered a shelter for shepherds. There are mitata all over Crete, stones precisely placed on one another, creating a miracle of architecture. These small circular structures host not only shepherds, but their milk products as well. Cheese is sometimes placed next to the warmness of the fireplace inside, while Shepherds wait patiently until they mature and become one of the best cheeses on Crete.