Panegyria - the Party not to be missed!!

Panegyria - the Party not to be missed!!

Panegyria -  Pan-a-yee-ree-y-a

When visiting Crete in the summer months there are always lots of village parties where the whole village gets together to celebrate the Name Day of their village church.  Food, drink, music and dancing go on till the early hours.

When I first started going to Crete, many villagers had Open Houses on these days, providing delicious home-cooked food and drink (and spontaneous entertainment once the Raki kicked in!) We would wander from house to house  gathering-up others on the way to the next house.

My favourite was always in the next village to my husband's, where relatives from his mother's side of the family lived.  We would visit several houses, eat until full at each (tip: always leave a little something on your plate if you don't want it filled up again!  An empty plate is screaming out to be re-filled) and toast all and sundry with the householder's wine.

A new place-setting would be laid for each visitor whatever time of day or night they arrived.  But as it got later and the wine and raki bottles were re-filled, the singing would start.  One of my most precious video memories is of my father-in-law singing at his brother-in-law's house during such a gathering.  The men were singing 'Mandinares', traditional folk songs made of rhyming couplets.  Often they're like a conversation between a soloist and a group chorus, and often made-up on the spot, judging by the hilarity that accompanied a punch-line.

Today many Panegyria are much larger events and may charge an entrance fee, but if you ever visit, anywhere in Greece, don't miss out.  Ask around whether there is anything happening nearby and go along.  Cretans love an opportunity to show their Philoxenia, hospitality to the stranger, and to have you share in their culture and traditions, and you'll have a great time!


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