As I am myself of Pontic heritage, I wanted to see the custom of Kotsamania. In other places, this is also known as "Momoyer". This is an ancient tradition of the Black Sea. The performance refers to the priests of Momos, the god of laughter and satire. The origin of the event is considered to have originated from Ancient Greece, namely the ancient Dithyramb, as during the centuries evolved by the Pontic population.
This tradition takes place all over Greece, but it is said that this version, which is called "Kotsamania" was danced in the region of Pontus, Livera. It is considered to be the most representative since it is the most complete, in the sense of being preserved intact. This is the only Greek custom registered in UNESCO's archive of intangible heritage.
More villages around Tetralofos keep this tradition, such as Saint Demetrios and Ryakion villages.
I had already made contact with the local Pontic cultural club of Tetralofos and they happily agreed to host myself and the team inside a room in the building of the club. I arrived in Kozani, where I met a member of the club Kostas and followed him along to Tetralofos village. This is not too far from Kozani, just an approximate 20-minute drive. Along the way, you could see the huge utility power plant of Kozani which is kind of a landmark of the place. You could see the steam coming out of the chimneys.
We arrived at the home of Kostas' father in Tetralofos. His mother was around and offered to make coffee. We gladly obliged to that and to everything else they were taking out. We had a lovely Kourambies, or two (traditional Christmas biscuits with almonds, dusted with powdered sugar) and some lovely spoon sweet.
Kostas along with another friend started getting ready for the event. The mother was supervising and was giving directions to make things right. The father came along a few minutes later and he too started to give directions on how to proceed with the whole event. This event is protected by UNESCO so he considers that they should perform accurately and correct even the slightest details.
We then went off to the cultural club, where everyone would meet to start the event. This place was also going to be my home for the next few days. It was hosted in an old, but nicely renovated building. The heating inside was great, which was a good indication of a good night's sleep since it was freezing outside.
Inside, some people were dressing up or doing final preparations. After everyone was done, we went outside for a group photo and were ready to start.
This custom goes like this. Everyone is dancing along the rhythm played by the traditional instruments. Bagpipe, Lyre, and drum. They start by visiting the graveyard, which is located at the village's entrance. Each time they stop, they dance in a ritual kind of way and perform certain acts.
Apart from the musicians and the dancers, there are a few more characters. One or two brides, played by men, in the same way of ancient Greek theater, an old man, an old lady and the devil. There is also a police officer and a doctor. The bride is supposed to be the sister of the dancers and people attending, try to steal her away.
If they do, the brothers must come to the rescue and the police officer will press charges to the culprit, which usually have to do with the bride getting pregnant.
When they finish off at the graveyard, they start the house visits. They perform the custom during two days, December 25 and 26. They will visit separate parts of the village each day so that they have time to go to every house. As soon as they reach each house, they start dancing around the yard and wish good luck for the year to come. The devil usually tries to play some tricks to the family, such as move things around or make some kind of a mess.
Each house has prepared treats for everyone which consist of local and traditional delicacies as well as a lot of Tsipouro (Greek alcoholic drink made by distilled grapes). By the time the sun sets, it is certain that you will be drunk!
A funny incident happened when the devil took a chicken from a house and threw it inside a car driving by!
When the night falls, everyone returns in front of the local club and they start dancing in circles. A bonfire is lit and a frenzy dance around it starts. Everyone has some nice soup with meat made by the club and other local dishes. After the event is finished, they go inside the local cafes to go on dancing!