Sunday 19th February was the date for the third Apokreas/Carnival Party in Charakopio. The first one – organised by the newly formed Syllogos/Cultural Group was just before Lockdown in 2020! The Charakopio Apokreas events are quite traditional, with predominantly Greek music, seasonal dances and homecooked food, rather than the more Brazilian-influenced Carnival parties adopted in some areas. We were pretty lucky with the weather and had beautiful sunshine, although it was a bit nippy in the shade!
Before I was a member of the Syllogos, I used to wonder how these events materialised… and now I know. The Syllogos core group meets once a week all year round and members of the Syllogos are able to attend these meetings if they like. You can become a member for an annual fee of €10 (or other donation). The money collected from subscriptions goes towards such things as the hiring of tables and chairs for events, wine, soft drinks, ribbons for making bunting, meat and sausage for this event, paying a DJ, buying plates, tablecloths and cups etc…
Anyone can attend a village event such as this and food and drinks are offered free of charge, but in the last few years, it’s become more of a practice to add some cash to the collection box to help out with the funds. Collection boxes may lurk near the food area, or may be taken around the tables by a member of the syllogos. At some events, a raffle will take place as an alternative means of raising cash.
The tables were groaning at the Charakopio event. As well as the purchased meat and sausage and a few other bits, there was a huge variety of homemade pies, pancakes, salads and cakes home-made by the women of the village. These are paid for by the individual women, rather than the Syllogos. I was on the serving table and it was really exciting seeing what everyone had cooked as it turned up on the table.
One of the first things the new Syllogos did when it was formed was to arrange for Greek Dancing lessons to take place in the village. For years I had been learning Greek dancing variously in Nea Koroni and also Koroni as there were no classes here. There are now two kids classes and a sizeable adults class (all women!) learning traditional Greek dances and meeting twice a week. We have the same fabulous teacher I had in Koroni. At the Apokreas party, the kids and adult groups performed traditional Apokreas dances, including the Gaidanaki/Maypole. After that, the afternoon continued with general Panigiri-style Greek dancing for the rest of the afternoon.
As well as arranging events such as this one, the Charakopio Syllogos has so far done up the old olive oil museum in the village, planted some plants in the car park and repaired some broken benches in the square. They have also established a sizeable lending library in the community building. In order to do this, the rooms first had to be cleared of years of junk and thoroughly cleaned and painted. A couple of coach trips have also been organised by popular demand and there are plans to restore the old water mill on the road to Mouseli, where the Charakopio water supply used to come from.