© FOUNDATION OF THRACIAN ART & TRADITION
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Every year since 1980 (except for 1986, year of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster) the Panhellenic Federation of Sarakatsan Associations (POSS) has held the Panhellenic Sarakatsan Meet in the grasslands of Pertouli, Trikala. At this festival ? until 2004 held on the last Sunday of May, and since 2005 on the last Sunday of June ? the Sarakatsans of Thrace of course have a strong presence. Moreover, a local Meet is held each summer at Leivaditi in Xanthi by the Lepeniotis Sarakatsan Association of the Prefecture of Xanthi, whilst the Thrace Educational Association of Sarakatsans, based in Komotini, holds the Kaloyiannia. The Meet marked the abandonment of the plain, their winter home that is, and the ascent to the tall mountains. This event was especially joyful for the Sarakatsans, as they particularly loved the mountains, given that they had always been nomadic tribes and pastoralists. They thus celebrated their ascent to the mountain with songs and festivities: beneath the fir trees they set up their huts and family ?stanes,? setting the scene so as to relive the customs and traditions of the Sarakatsans. Thousands of people watch the re-enactment of scenes from the nomadic life of the Sarakatsans, traditional sports and dances, including the dance of the elders, and much more.