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July 3, 2012

KLITHONAS - AN OLD CUSTOM



      On the 24th of June it was St.John's the Baptist birthday, a religious holiday accompanied by many local customs, some of which are ancient old. Since it is also the day of the Summer Solstice, some of the ancient habits/rituals related to it have remained till today.  

   Klithonas (in Greek Κληδονας) is an ancient custom that comes to life on this day. It is a folk fortune telling ritual where  unmarried girls will learn the name of the man they will marry!  The night before young, single girls (usually dressed in traditional clothes) bring the "speechless water"
from a well (possible now, only in villages where a well may still exist) and pour it in a clay pot. In this pot they also throw a personal item. They seal it with a red cloth and leave it under the clear sky. They do this in absolute silence, they must not talk. 



      Then the celebration continues by lighting a huge bonfire in the town's square where people burn their Protomaya (first of May) wreaths. There's singing and dancing involved and everybody takes turns jumping over the fire for good luck.


      The next day the clay pot is opened while everybody is singing particular folk songs. As each girl takes back her personal item, a woman (designated the day before) recites or comes up with a couplet that foretells that girl's future. In some places these couplets could make you blush!!! (...especially when they're told by ...grandmothers!)  








      When the fortune telling is over, a great feast follows!!!


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