Gaitanaki Greece

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A Greek Carnival Custom

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Gaitanaki Greece

  1. 1. COMENIUS PROJECT (2012-2013) (2012-2013 “Building the cultural bridges of friendship ” 2nd EPAL School, Serres -Greece “GAITANAKI” (Maypole)
  2. 2. “GAITANAKI” (Maypole)
  3. 3. The Maypole is a dance that blends perfectly with the colorful and fun spirit of the feast of the Carnival.
  4. 4. The Maypole is called “gaitanaki” in Greek. It is one of the few customs that are strongly maintained in various parts of Greece. It was brought over from Asia Minor and Pontos by the Greek refugees as part of the exchange of populations scheme.
  5. 5. The dance of the “gaitanaki” needs thirteen participants where one of them holds the wooden pole in the middle from which stream twelve long and differently colored ribbons. The ribbons are called gaitania and give their name to the custom.
  6. 6. Twelve dancers stand around the main pole and hold a ribbon each, dancing in couples to the tunes of folkloric music. As they move around the pole, the couples exchange dance partners and, thus, cause the ribbons to weave between them creating different chromatic combinations.
  7. 7. When all the ribbons are wrapped around the pole causing the dancers to dance closer and closer to the pole, the dance finishes and the Maypole acquires a colourful appearance to match the spirit of the Carnival.
  8. 8. Dancing around the Maypole constitutes part of a folklore festival and dates back to various centuries. We see it across European countries and especially in rural areas and it symbolizes the love and peace among people.
  9. 9. A pole, as well as 12 colorful ribbons are necessary.
  10. 10. The ribbons need to be fixed on top of the pole.
  11. 11. A 13th person holds the pole in the centre of the circle formed by the dancers. It is said that number 12 symbolizes the 12 months of the year.
  12. 12. The dancers form 6 couples. Each couple faces another one and they all move simultaneously.
  13. 13. During the dance, each dancer alternately passes by the other’s right and left side, making the ribbons intertwine on the pole, thus, creating a rather beautiful pattern.
  14. 14. This circular dance, possibly symbolizes the circle of life. From happiness to sadness, from winter to spring, from life to death and vice versa.

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