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Greek New Year’s Custom of Momogeroi Revived

Momogeroi custom New Year Greece
The ritual takes place mainly among Pontian Greeks in the north of the country. Credit: Facebook/Hellenic Association of Momogeroi

The New Year’s ritual of Momogeroi, a custom that dates back to ancient times, has been revived in Greece as people in costume celebrate the coming of 2022.

The Momogeroi ritual, performed mostly by Pontian Greeks, depicts the coming of the new year as the rebirth of nature in a satirical way.

The revelers wear traditional costumes or animal skins and are made up to appear elderly. They carry swords, bells, and drums.

Momogeroi has three protagonists and twelve dancers

The main ritual has three protagonists and twelve dancers. The three protagonists include: a man made up to appear elderly; Kiti Gotsa, who represents the year about to pass; a bride, who represents nature and its rebirth, fertility, longevity and good health; and in the Greek tradition a man dressed in black, who symbolizes the new year.

In the ritual, the bride is alternatively kidnapped by the new year and the old year. The twelve dancers symbolize the twelve months of the year and the whole troupe plays instruments, dances, and sings carols.

When different troupes of Momogeroi meet, they engage in a mock “war.”

The Momogeroi ritual goes back to ancient times and is linked with the Greek god Dionysus. It takes place mostly in Macedonia and northern Greece.

Momogeroi is one among many unique traditions to celebrate the New Year in Greece.

January first is New Year’s Day as well as the feast day of the Greek Orthodox Saint Basil. In honor of both the New Year and St. Basil’s day, Greeks bake a coin into a New Year’s cake called “Vasilopita.”

Caroling is not just a Christmas tradition in Greece. Carolers also play the triangle and sing carols, or “Kalanda,” as they visit the homes in their neighborhoods for the New Year.

Hanging a big, juicy pomegranate over the front door is a typical Greek ritual that also takes place on the night of New Year’s Eve.

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