Gaitanaki: a carnival tradition with a long history

The Carnival is a period for having fun and letting go that includes many interesting traditions, including the gaitanaki.

Apokria in Greek (apokrea) means abstinence from meat, from the words apo (from) and kreas (meat). The Latin word Carnival is made up from the words carne (meat) and vale (greet).

Apokria has its roots in ancient Greece, specifically in the processions of the Dionysian Mysteries. Attendees would dress up as satyrs and cover their faces, so that their identity would be hidden as they would dance, drink, swear and perform lurid acts.

As years went by, celebrating Apokria developed and was enriched with other traditions. One of those, which remains the same to this day, is the gaitanaki, a dance full of colours, fun and humour.

 

 

 

Imagem

 

As years went by, celebrating Apokria developed and was enriched with other traditions. One of those, which remains the same to this day, is the gaitanaki, a dance full of colours, fun and humour.

 

 

 

The custom of gaitanaki was introduced by Pontian and Asia Minor Greeks and became very popular because of its characteristic dance and timeless symbolism. 


Gaitanaki is derived from the medieval word «gaitani», meaning silk string or ribbon and is created by the Greek ending –aki, used to denote something small.

Thirteen people are needed to make this unique dance come to life.  One person holds a big pole from where twelve long ribbons hang, all in different colours. These ribbons are the gaitania. Each dancer holds a ribbon and moves in a pair, singing the traditional song. As they move around the pole, people and ribbons interweave creating colourful patterns, just like women used gaitania to decorate dresses. As the ribbons and dancers get closer, they start moving in the opposite direction. The ribbons untangle and the dance is over.

 

Imagem

 

The twelve dancers are symbolic of the months of the year or the Ores, the mythical goddesses of time.

The cyclical dance symbolises the cycle of life, joy and sorrow, winter and spring. In rural communities, it also symbolised the spirit of brotherhood, love and unity.

News

27.02.2020

Text

Nancy Fanara

Cookies are small pieces of information stored in your hard disk, they do not contain chocolate chips, you cannot eat them and there is no special hidden jar. They allow us to offer you the best possible experience enabling you to use shopping carts, personalize your experience, tell us which parts of our website people have visited, help us measure the effectiveness of our communications and platform. Please visit our Cookies Policy to learn more.

close-button
close-button

Reach for the magic!

A Magic Cabinet invites you to exclusive offers, latest products and news. Join us and get 10% off on your next order.