West Mani Local Customs

  • Loukadika village
    Loukadika village
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  • village in Mani barren land
    village in Mani barren land
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  • Kotronas - ancient Tefthroni
    Kotronas - ancient Tefthroni
    by marka13

Most Recent Local Customs in West Mani

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    Nowdays

    by marka13 Updated Mar 14, 2003

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    village in Mani barren land

    All these violent customs like vendetta, now belong to History. Maniots nowdays love to have doughters and feel proud for them.
    But what now seems inacceptable, it is easily explained for the old times.
    When war was a daily routine, being a warrior was the only way to protect, not only family but also nation. So it was not strange that they prefered boys than girls.
    Additionally, when they lived in a so poor barren, infertile land like Mani in order to remain free from the Ottomans, and many other greeks joined them, it was inavoidable to fight for the land and try to earn more, at all costs.

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    Wedding and birth

    by marka13 Written Mar 14, 2003

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    Tower houses

    The only happy events were those of a wedding and a birth of a boy. Like ancient Greeks they thought that a boy or a "koukos" would guarantee the biological sequence of the family and the ethnos in general. Besides, every boy was looked upon as one more warrior or a "rifle" in the family that would be very useful in future fights.

    The birth of a girl would pass absolutely unnoticeable: no visits, no congratulations and no refreshments. On the contrary, when a boy was born men and women would go to congratulate the happy parents. Before entering the housemen would shoot and then pass the threshold with the words: "Long life the baby and let another one follow him!" The festival on this occasion would last several days.

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    And after Vendetta what???

    by marka13 Written Mar 14, 2003

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    man and donkey (a scene that you can still see in

    Sometimes upon their wish members of a defeated family could stay in the village. This was possible on some certain terms. If it was a plain murder a remoursed murderer would perform a simple ceremony and after this he would become a special protector and benefactor of the family of his former enemy. Cases like this were discussed and approved by a local council, or "Gerontiki" that was headed by a Bey or a captain. This council was the only administrative organ that ruled and maintained order in Mani.

    The fights between hostile families would immediately stop only in one case – in the case of the Turkish thread. The longest truce or "treva" was announced on the eve of the liberation movement on the request of Mavromichalis.

    The fights or vendetta continued after the liberation of Greece but they were gradually dying out until completely stopped after the end of the Second World War. Today this Maniot custom belongs to the past of this area, part of its old traditions.

    So don't be afraid to come! ;)

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    Vendetta - Gdikiomos

    by marka13 Written Mar 14, 2003

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    Gythio lighthouse

    Vendetta (or the so called "gdikiomos") appeared as a result of fights between competing families. At first it was a punishment for some hostile action against a family or a kin and not against an individual.

    A decision to start vendetta was usually taken in cold blood at a family’s gathering and could be directed against any member of the hostile family.

    If during the vendetta the father of the family was killed then every boy in the family lived with only one dream – to take a revenge for their father’s death. After that the family that fulfilled their duty closed itself in the house to avoid any contacts with the members of the "defeated" family.

    Vendetta was rather often aimed at a full extermination of the hostile family. The family that decided to begin vendetta announced officially about their intention, the village bells rang, both families locked in their towers and this meant that the war started. After this any method of the fight was considered right and legal. Other villagers tried not to stay in the way of the fighting families and most of their time spent in the houses.

    In some cases vendetta could be temporally stopped, it was a kind of a break, the so-called "treva". Usually these were the periods of agricultural labors such as tillage, sowing, threshing, gathering of olives and so on. The hostile parties could even work on the neighboring fields but in dead silence. They used the nights for storing food and weapons in their house-towers. As soon as the "treva" ended the military actions resumed.

    Also short breaks were acceptable if in a hostile family there were such holy ceremonies as christening, weddings and so.

    Usually vendetta finished when the hostile family was completely exterminated. Those few who could be saved would leave the village and so all the property of the defeated enemy became loot of the winners.

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    Weeping songs ceremony

    by marka13 Written Mar 14, 2003

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    Kotronas - ancient Tefthroni

    When someone in a village dies all the women come to his/her house for "sitting". They take their seats round the coffin and start weeping songs in the form of a dialogue.

    In the process of weeping there exists a strict hierarchy. Thus, when a man dies the weeping should start his mother who is followed then by his sister, daughter and a wife in the end. It is considered an honour when somebody outside of the family decides to weep over the deceased. It is not allowed to stop the woman who is weeping and if some other woman wants to join or to continue she should ask the permission for doing this.

    The weeping ceremony that starts at the house of a deceased then continues during the procession to the church where it turns into load sobbing. The weeping strengthens on the way to the cemetery supported by the voices of the deceased’s relatives and reaches its peak at the grave.

    Sometimes weepers make long trips to come to the funeral of some distant relative. They improvise their weeping songs, which include some set phrases that they constantly repeat.

    The Maniot weeping songs are long funeral poems that include certain events from the life of a deceased, stages of his social and military career, his merits and so on.

    Some funeral songs have clearly expressed didactic character and represent a certain historical and ethnical interest. It is only natural to expect that the most characteristic weeping songs are connected with the institute of vendetta.

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    Weeping songs

    by marka13 Written Mar 14, 2003

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    Loukadika village

    Weeping songs are sad poems sung at funerals of beloved people. Weeping and generally songs of Haros are deeply rooted in the past and are known to us from the times of Homer. Though the ancient Greeks believed in the immortality of a human soul and the underground life still death was treated as a tragic thing.

    The first weeping songs are known to us from the Homer’s poems. We can remember the funeral songs of Andromache, Gekuba, Helen, Achilles and etc. The contents of these songs remarkably remind the modern Greek weeping songs.

    In Mani the weeping songs are so expressive and poetic that got the form of a real art. In a lyrical way they describe the whole life of the deceased. One can say that this kind of songs almost completely replaced any other songs in Mani. These songs represent the only form of the folk art passing from one generation to another. This tradition is very strong and Maniot women still now create new weeping songs.

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West Mani Local Customs

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