The Best of GRReporter
flag_bg flag_gr flag_gb

Magna Grecia - from tarantella to funeral dirges in the lands forgotten by Christ

29 December 2014 / 13:12:53  GRReporter
6700 reads

- The similarities are numerous, but the most characteristic one is κοπετού (from the ancient Greek κοπετός), the mourning, the heartbreaking wailing over the dead during which women hit themselves in the chest, claw their faces, tear their clothes and hair. I watched these scenes during the fieldwork, when two sisters were wailing over their deceased mother. When her mortal remains were removed from the house, they fell down onto the ground, hitting their heads and chests, clawing their faces. Another important similarity is the placing of the deceased person’s favourite objects (cigarettes, decks of playing cards, etc.) in the coffin. The main difference is that in Calabria only men send the dead to his/her last home. This is related to the attempt of the Catholic Church to suppress the ritual mourning (especially the dirges), which was considered a remnant of pagan times; since, as soon as the Lord had invited the deceased to himself the living ones should not be mourning. There is a difference between the designated day on which to honour the dead (2 November) and to perform the liturgy at the cemetery, which is followed by the wailing of the women over the graves, even though decades have elapsed since someone's death. Also interesting is the ritual that follows the laying of the body in the ground. It is believed that those who took part in a funeral are carriers of evil spirits and their transmission can cause a variety of evils and troubles. Therefore, they must return to the house of the dead and greet his or her relatives with a handshake. By the handshake they get rid of harmful mischievous spirits. It is a widespread custom in the Italian south. Who does not "clear" him/herself of the evil spirits can cause death, a fall from a high cliff, or natural disasters. This is the same as the belief in Greece that, during the first eight days after the death, the deceased is in an intermediate state between life and death, and only after the eighth day, does he or she leave for the realm of shadows. The relevant Greek and Balkan commemorative service on the ninth day after someone’s death takes place on the eighth day in Calabria. After that day, the closest relatives go to places in the open where the deceased had spent his life to mourn him or her. I remember such cases during the time spent in Calabria, which were shattering experiences.
- This year you visited Bulgaria, this time travelling not on business but as a tourist. What are your impressions of the few days you spent in Sofia and Plovdiv? Would you be interested in studying the Greek ethnic element and the Greek dialects along the Black Sea and in Eastern Roumelia?
- My impressions from both Sofia and Plovdiv are excellent. I am amazed by the beauty of these two cities, their architecture, their cleanliness, respect for history and the environment which you can feel while walking around. There are Greek researchers, experts in this field, such as Marianna Koromila, the author of The Black Sea Greeks (1991, revised edition 2001), awarded the prize of the Athens Academy. Having travelled almost all over Turkey, the Black Sea region and the Balkans, Koromila’s books have been released by Greek and foreign publishers, in addition to numerous publications in scholarly journals and television productions. Therefore, studies of the Greeks in the coastal areas of the Black Sea and Eastern Roumelia have been conducted but I believe that it would be essential to carry out an interdisciplinary expedition of scientists (historians, ethnologists, ethno-musicologists, anthropologists) to conduct an in-depth study of the centuries-long presence of Hellenism in these places, especially in the former Philippopolis/Plovdiv.

Tags: Christina PetropoulouZdravka MihaylovaCalabriaMagna GreciaItalyGreek languageTarantella
GRReporter’s content is brought to you for free 7 days a week by a team of highly professional journalists, translators, photographers, operators, software developers, designers. If you like and follow our work, consider whether you could support us financially with an amount at your choice.
You can support us only once as well.
blog comments powered by Disqus