Values, customs and traditions – a descent in Arcadian reality

Values, customs and traditions – a descent in Arcadian reality

Arcadia has a singularity. Though it is always in the spirit of the times, it holds on to its traditions with great fervour. Already from antiquity we are in debt to the Arcadians for their innovations: money transactions, the invention of architecture, music and get-togethers in cities. It is also true that the sciences, the arts and commerce blossomed very early in Arcadia. At the same time, however, the close ties between the Arcadians and love of their homeland has ensured that they keep their age-old traditions very much alive.

A particular type of life, in relation to nature, simplicity and wisdom have created the Arcadian uniqueness and immutability through the centuries. A life that flows in sync with the world and the seasons. Customs that show the admiration of people for the mystery of life are performed in exactly the same way as  for thousands of years now. The deep religiousness of the Arcadians is identified with Orthodoxy. However the way they honour the Saviour, the mother of God and the Saints has the stamp of  a primeval community. Every Summer, in all the churches that are dedicated to Prophet Ilia they have a massive feast. As they did once in honour of Apollo. In Nestani, Saint George is honoured right in the middle of Spring, right in the same place where the feasts of  Mother Demetra and her dark daughter, Despina were celebrated. With the tsipianitiki traditional costumes, with shepherd crooks adorned with flowers, they all dance an ancient circle dance singing St George’s song. You might think that you were in an ancient tragedy.

The feasts in honour of Panagia (Virgin Mary) are numerous. This is because in Arcadia the Virgin Mary is honoured a lot, practically every village has one church dedicated to her. On the 15th of August they usually get together to celebrate and praise their beloved Mother of God. The pastoral customs still hold in Arcadia. The Elders are honoured with their own celebration in August. The meeting of the herdsmen in Valtetsiniko is the starting point for a festival that for those who experiences it, will never forget. In Libovisi and the whole of  Falanthos, in Levidi, and its the same in Tripoli, in every village and every town, the Arcadians joyfully celebrate life. Easter in Tripoli is well-known throughout Greece for its Holy week devotion and the general joy of the resurrection.

Carnival time is an opportunity for a Dionysian outburst. Wine flows plentifully and people let themselves go, as they have done from the beginning of time. The bantering, always good-hearted, brings smiles. And the dancing goes on until morning.

The village feast provides a pretext for the Arcadian diaspora to find a reason to return to their birthplace. Along with the large number of visitors they liven up the always hospitable Arcadia.

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