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Loukantzaria or Rokantzaria (Grotesquely masked groups)

On the Epiphany Eve the village is overwhelmed by the songs and colors of grotesquely masked groups of people, the so called Loukantzaria. This custom goes back to the pagan times and symbolizes the ousting of malevolent spirits by the Holy Light.

The Loukantzaria are organized in companies of people, who are dressed in a manner reminiscent of witch doctors or shamans. The leader of each company carries a 6 ft conical headgear (suilo) standing in place by dint of a thin wooden pole. At the top of the suilo a bunch of multicolored balloons is tied. He is dressed in animal skins and girdled with a string of goat or cow bells. The rest of the company is also clad in a similar way and they make a pandemonium of clamor. Some members are disguised in a variety of manners, such as a couple about to be married, a doctor with his stethoscope, a bear tamer with his teddy bear, a priest, and so on.

The companies call on each house of the village in turns and sing a song, whose lyrics are appropriate to the social state of the household.

The master of the house then stands the Loukantzaria to generous treats of money or delicacies. In case of a tightfisted master the Loukantzaria jeer at him with a satirical song.

In the olden days, the Loukantzaria custom lasted four days and there was an exchange of companies between villages.

The custom still goes on in our days despite the dramatic decline of the local population.


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