Symi News › Koukoumas 2009 04/05/2009, 16:12

The ancient custom of Koukoumas

Koukoumas is one of the most beautiful customs of Symi and is related to the ancient custom of Klidonas. In older days, it took place in every neighborhood. The lady of the house who was responsible for Koukoumas gives a "xisti" (Venetian vase) to seven young girls the night before and they are instructed to bring the "silent water" (called that because they had to be silent while bringing it) from seven houses that must each be home to a girl called Irini. Inside the xisti, each girl then puts a ring, and the xisti is then covered with a red scarf and a key is placed on top. They then take it outside to the front of the house and leave it under the stars for the night. The next day, after the church service, the girls prepare some sweets and a very salty pie which they have to knead and bake while their hands are kept behind their backs. The flour must be sifted the day before by a firstborn girl who has both parents still alive.

Then the girls sit around a big "sini" (metal dish), put the xisti in the middle, remove the red scarf with the key and put freshly chopped basil and flowers inside the xisti and spoons around the sini. Accompanied by musicians, the girls start to sing rhythmically for some time repeating the Koukoumas song praising their loved ones. Afterwards, a girl below the age of 18 with both parents still living takes the rings from the water one by one and gives them to the girls they belonged to. While giving each ring, she tells its owner a man's name.

The celebration then continues with music and dancing with the young men of the neighbourhood invited. At the end of Koukoumas, the lady in charge hands out the salty pie to the girls to eat. As the pie is very salty, the girls will dream that night about going to a house to ask for water to drink. If the house in a girl's dream has an unmarried man with the same name as the one the girl was told at Koukoumas, he will be destined to become her future husband.

The custom of Koukoumas has been revived on Symi and plays out every year on 2 May at the yard of Agios Athanasios in Horio, where women spectators are also invited to put their rings inside the xisti.

SymiGreece was asked by the Koukoumas organisers at the Agios Athanasios church in Horio to provide coverage of the event. Below you can see how the festivities went by looking at the 81 photos and 3 videos.

Koukoumas: Videos click to watch

Koukoumas Preperations
Early preparations and dressing-up for Koukoumas.

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symi video symi video symi video

Koukoumas: The Ceremony
A 10-minutes edited video of the main ceremony from beginning to end.

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symi video symi video symi video

Koukoumas: The Dancing
A 10-minutes edited video of dancing with traditional costumes.

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symi video symi video symi video

Before the start click for larger version

Inside the church of Agios Athanasios click for larger version

The view from the bell tower of Agios Athanasios click for larger version

Dressing-up for Koukoumas click for larger version

Koukoumas starts click for larger version

Dancing for Koukoumas click for larger version

The end of a good day! click for larger version

Koukoumas: Banners click for larger version

All photos in larger size - click here

(2) Comments

  1. John Pritty said on 05/05/2009, 19:28

    Thank you Christos, I really appreciate the pictures of my god children, although I suspect the eldest didn't appreciate being on the business end of your camera.

  2. Christos said on 05/05/2009, 23:46

    There may be many more people you know in the videos which are coming up!

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