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Custons
Chartomata or Engagement

When young peopled reached the age of eighteen or when they had saved some money, they were considered ready to get engaged. The families used to be responsible of finding the prefect match and they always considered as important “their likes and dislikes, the generation and the economical state of the in-laws”.

After the selection of the ‘perfect match’, the matchmaker, who was in most cases a woman, took over the proposal, and if the answer were positive then a wedding date was set.

It is worth mentioning that the inhabitants considered that the best period for engagement was the “love week”, namely the week before the Christmas fasting period that lasts fourty days.

On the day of the engagement, the family of the groom visited the family of the bride and decided on the amount of the dowry offered to the couple by their families. This agreement was consummated by a handshake between the couple and their parents. Tokka, namely handshake for the people of Agia Marina was the equivalent of the honour of a person. It is worth mentioning that the couple got married only after their house was completely built, even if it took a decade to be finished. This was followed by a great banquet, where the god parents were the guests of honour.

Wedding or “armasma” or “stefanomata”

The wedding is a joyful event and everyone in the village took part in the weddings. The invitation was house to house visits by the parents of the couple, who offered “glistarka”,  a kind of sesame bread.

On the wedding’s eve, which was on Saturdays, the inhabitants of the village used to go to the house of the bride with their “kanishi”, that is, food such as potatoes, oil, pasta and a chicken. On the afternoon, the best men and the maids of honour re-invited everyone to the wedding offering them rosewater in a silver vessel called “merrecha”. On Saturday afternoon, the bed of the couple was filled with money (gemisma tou krevatiou) by everyone. This custom was at some point transferred for the next day, namely Sunday afternoon. On the same night, all family and friends were gathered at the house where the wedding was to take place and had a feast accompanied by an orchestra with traditional instruments, such as violin and lute.

On the wedding day, on Sunday, everyone in the village helped to prepare the food for the feast in the evening. The bride used to start getting ready at noon at her house accompanied by her friends and traditional music. A few hours later, the groom got ready in a similar atmosphere.

After this, the couple went to the church accompanied by their families, their friends and music. The first to go was the groom. As the newlyweds exited the church, all people present threw “flowers, wheat or rice” at them, as they believed that this helped them grow old together and have many children.

A custom that survived for many years and was believed foretell if the couple was to be happy, had the other of the bride asking the groom to throw a pomegranate on the wall of their house, before entering the house. If the pomegranate broke into many pieces, it meant that the couple would be blissful. This custom was slowly abandoned after 1950.

A big feast with food, drinks and music followed and lasted for a whole day. The next day, Monday, friends and family visited the newlyweds so as to offer them their ‘Monday present’ and to eat pasta and traditional pies with honey.

On Monday afternoon, all best men and maids of honour invited everyone to the Monday party and to see the couple dancing. During this wedding dance everyone gave money to the couple in a rather extraordinary manner. They pinned money and clothing on the couple’s clothes while they were dancing.

The wedding used to last until Tuesday and on the following Sunday, when a kind of second wedding took place so as to offer more food and music. What is more, the couple received money.

Christmas Customs

Before Christmas, all housewives started reparations for Christmas. Preparations included cleaning the house and baking traditional delicacies, such as daktulies and glistakres.

It is worth mentioning that everyone who worked elsewhere always came in Agia Marina to spend Christmas there.
On Christmas day, everyone went to the church at 4 in the morning so as to see the same star that led the three wise men to Christ.
After church, they used to gather and eat the traditional trachana soup. At noon they ate meat, “kolokasi” and mushrooms they found in the forest.

New Year’s

On New Year’s Eve, housewives prepared the New Year’s pie and put a coin inside.

On New Year’s Eve, the family would sit around the “tsiminia”, a kinf od fireplace. They used to throw leaves of olive trees on the fire, after they prayed to Saint Nicolas (Agios Vassilis) to show if their chosen one loved them back. If the leaf jumped, this meant that their beloved one felt the same way.

The housewives used to set the table for Agios Vassilis. They offered him a pie especially made for him, a bottle of wine with a glass, the wallet of the landlord and a lit candle. Agios Vassilis was believed to visit each and every house on that day, so as to bless the new year and offer health, love, happiness and wealth.

On New Year’s morning, the children found presents or money (pouloustrina) in their shoes. They were supposed to be a present from Agios Vassilis. The owner of the house would then cut the pie and offer pieces to everyone. Who ever found a coin in their piece were considered lucky all year round.

Kalanta

On Epiphany Day’s eve or Kalanta, everyone went to the church in order to get holy water (agiasmos). They would then water their “animals, gardens, trees” so as to be fructiferous.
After Mass the village’s priest used to go around all the houses holding a cross and “matsa” a cluster of olive tree leaves so as to sprinkle people with holy water and bless them. All housewives welcomed the priest by offering food.

Another custom regarding Epiphany Day is the preparation of loukoumades, a kind of doughnut for the kalikantzari. According to tradition, kalikantzari are bugbears that appear as animals or scary old men and wish to frighten humans. Therefore, all housewives prepare loukoumades and throw them on the roofs of their houses for the kalikantzari to eat and leave.

Carnival

Carnival or Apokries was a festive period, which lasted the days.
All housewives prepared traditional food throughout these ten days. People used to gather and had fun while eating the food each family brought.

The carnival feast included eating and drinking, playing, dressing up and singing. One of the most famous traditional games is the game with the egg. They used to hang a boiled egg with a thread on the ceiling, above the table and everyone there were trying to catch it with their mouths.

Green Monday

On Green Monday, namely the day signifying the beginning of the Easter fasting period everyone had picnics in the fields surrounding the village. 
An old custom has a young lady dressed as a bride riding a donkey and visiting everyone while having a picnic. She was accompanied by musicians and people singing.

Swing or Souses

Souses was a traditional game especially for young women during the Easter holidays. The girls would hang a swing on a wooden or iron beam (neuka).

Then four of them would sit on the sousa and started to swing, with the help of young men. The girls sung during this game.

Easter Holidays

Preparations for Easter started a week before Easter Sunday. All housewives would dye eggs red and bake “flaounes”, a traditional Cypriot kind of cheese-bread.  All men would bring logs of wood from Adelphi forest, in order to light the Lambratzia, a kind of bonfire, where Judas is burned.

On the night of Holy Saturday everyone is at the church. At midnight the priest announces that “Christ has risen” and everyone lights a candle.
After Mass they used to go home and eat flaouna with lamb and a traditional soup, Augolemoni, made of chicken and lemons.

On Easter Sunday, after the Mass of love, all people shake hands and say “Christ has risen”.
Then they gather up at the church’s parvis and play a game especially for youn men called “ditzimi”. They had to lift a big stone, and the men who accomplished that, were considered the strongest men of the village.

The easter meal included food and traditional drinks such as “zivania” and wine. After that all people from Agia Marian would gather up in Nefka and played traditional games such as “triappithkia”, “ziziros”, “potamos”, “sika” and “kattomougias”.

The most famous and amusing game is donkey rides. Donkeys have to run 3 kilometres and the first to make it is the winner. Most of these customs and all of these games are revived in Agia Marina every Easter.
 
 October 2018

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COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF AGIA MARINA XYLIATOU
Andrea Moditi 1
2772, Agia Marina Xyliatou
Tel: 22852775
Fax: 22852847
Email: info@agiamarinaxyliatou.org
 
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