Momogeroi of Pontos

In the action “Oi Momogeroi” presented the rebirth of nature when New Year comes and intended to satirize and imitate the Dionysian ceremonies. The custom of the Twelve Days, which is lost in the depths of centuries, with its roots reaching as far as antiquity and the God Dionysus, which is preserved and continued mainly by the inhabitants of villages and regions of Macedonia with Pontiac origin.

Momos is mentioned in Hesiod’s Theogony as the God of Laughter and Satire, the personification of reproach and accusation, and he is worshiped by his priests, called Momogeroi. In the action, the story of Kitty Gotsa represents the old year, who tries to steal the bride from the “man” who symbolically represents New Year. In each group we have an additional 12 dancers who symbolize the twelve months of the year, dressed in sheep’s clothing, bells and drums, or traditional costumes. They give wishes and make a fuss to ward off evil, while the young bride is a symbol of fertility and vegetation, health and longevity. The change of time and the rebirth of nature are symbolized by the bride, who falls in love with the new groom and the action alternates with the abduction of the bride between the old Kitty Gotcha and the new “groom”. All roles are played by men, according to the standards of ancient Greek tragedy. Momogeroi go around in groups on the streets of villages, dance with synchronized and symbolic steps and sing carols and other auspicious verses, expecting luck for the New Year. When two groups of Momogeroi meet, they wage mock war with each other until one group wins and the other submits.

At the end of 2016, the Intergovernmental Committee of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, approved the proposal of the Ministry of Culture and registered in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO).

Also, the folk action of “Kalogeros”, in which two men fight over a woman, are killed and then miraculously resurrected, foreshadowing the spring resurrection of nature, which is the center of the annual celebratory and productive cycle in purely agricultural areas has many similarities with the Momogeroi.

Photos by Vasilis Avgitidis