Neighbors – a song dedicated to relationships of the heart!

A monument of musical cultural heritage that has not been recorded and has not been officially registered as a municipal creation of the inhabitants of Eastern Thrace is the one entitled «Gitonises», which means neighbors. The first manuscripts of the song according to the president of the cultural association of Polystylo Kavala Mr. Meggidis, go back to 1960 in order to be preserved, while its birth is lost in years.

These first records come from second-generation refugees from the long-suffering region of Kastamboli in the province of Raidestos, now known as Tekirtak. It is a song sung by women in the churchyard, according to custom, during the week of the Feast of the Epiphany, i.e. after Easter Sunday. The song delves into helping each other and is closely related to everyday life and religion. The dance that accompanies the women’s song is done in a figurative way, as the grip of the hands is a tight fist, touching the side of the heart, thus symbolizing the friendship and the cordial relationship of the women of the neighborhood. It is a drag slow dance in three steps, by the so-called humble!

Both the words and the movement of the dance symbolize the relationship of solidarity and close cooperation of the women of the neighborhood, as in those years, and even today in Greek society, the neighborhood played a very important role and is worthy of scientific research from the perspective of sociology. It is a space, close to the homes of the inhabitants of a street, or a small area within the settlement, where people develop common beliefs and habits, often share things, contribute as helpers in each other’s chores, share sorrows and joys, often eat together or prepare food together and share it. For example, very often the women of the neighborhood would all bake the bread together and bake it together. Often the preparations for the Christmas or Easter celebrations were also carried out collectively at the neighborhood level, as were the washing of clothes, the preparation of the dowry and the wedding, and the daily water from the tap, which the neighbors took care to collect together. Another characteristic habit was the hours of relaxation making handmade embroidery and endless social discussions about the news of the village, pleasant or unpleasant, often while drinking coffee! These habits of socialization and personal contact of people continue to exist even today in some villages and areas with low urbanization, as the role and value of the neighborhood is very deep in Greek society. In fact, a phrase that used to be said expressing this deep and important relationship between neighbors says “the worst neighbor, the best relative”, in the sense of closeness and immediacy of relations, help and everyday life. Today, in many villages women continue to work closely together, asking for help from their neighbor and why not a little coffee or sugar that they don’t have at home, a vegetable or herb that they need immediately to complete their meal and not to starve the family!