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Culture Folklore East Macedonia and Thrace Prefecture of Xanthi

Xanthi?s carnival parade
(Photo: Nikolaos Th. Kokkas)
From Xanthi?s carnival parade
(Photo: Nikolaos Th. Kokkas)

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Xanthi?s Carnival

Nikolaos Kokkas

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The carnival spree is an institution with a deep background for Xanthi. Since the beginnings of the 20th century, celebrating carnival was the favorite custom of the inhabitants of Xanthi. Improvised carnival masquerades were made and people hang around laughing, singing and visiting friends? houses. Carnival celebrations were also organized at dance centers and clubs. Masked people used every kind of old clothing in order to make their carnival suits: old vests, traditional costumes, haimalia (charms) and decorative belts were taken from the trunks for the carnival. At the carnival celebrations of the beginnings of the 20th century, musical instruments such as guitar, canun, oud, mandolin and bouzouki (long neck lute) were already used. Before 1928 the Carnival Committee was established and organized masquerade parades and carnival awards. One among the most favorite customs then was the burning of tzaros (puppet idol), during which fires were lightened at the Samakov settlement along the river Kosinthos.
In 1966, the Local Tourism Committee of Xanthi began the formal organization of the ?Thracian Carnival Celebrations? supported economically by the Ministry of Governmental Presidency. The organizers aimed at presenting the rich cultural heritage of Thrace and the invigoration of the local economy. In 1969 the institution was renamed ?Thracian Folklore Celebrations?. Between 1967 and 1986, the municipality of Xanthi was responsible for organizing the celebrations. After the establishment of the Municipal Development Company of Xanthi in 1993, it took up the organization of the carnival.
During the last years Xanthi?s Carnival evolved in a popular institution with a panhellenic identity. The carnival clubs are making preparations for the celebration days during the whole year, while thousands of visitors come to town in order to take part in it.
A valuable source of information for Xanthi?s Carnival is the book of D. Mavridis and V. Sirakouli ?Xanthi?s Carnival. Thrace Folk Festival: Forty years 1966-2006?. Municipal Development Company of Xanthi & Center for the Development and Culture of Thrace, 2005.