Momoyer in Athens

Every year, during the twelve days of Christmas, the Momoyer come out to dance and wish for a prosperous, fertile New Year. An ancient pagan custom brought in Greece by the people of Black Sea.
Photography / Text: George Tatakis

This is an ancient Dionysian custom, brought in Greece by the people who fled the Black Sea region of Turkey between 1922 - 1924, following the Lausanne treaty.

Momoyer in Athens - Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens
Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis

The dates are not standard but Momoyer might be seen in different days, between December 19 to January 8. In Athens, usually this happens around December 20, as the participants might be visiting from Northern Greece and may want to participate in the ones taking place in their village. 

The Momoyer are full of jokes and tricks around the streets. They start at the location given here, which is the office of the local Pontic club organising the event and go around the streets of Kallithea teasing people but also offering Tsipouro (traditional alcoholic drink made by distilled grapes). 

Momoyer in Athens - Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens
Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis

Apart from the Momoyer, who are the dancers, dressed in colourful costumes, there are many Satyr characters, such as the bride, which is actually a man, the old man and woman, the devil and the police officer. 

Momoyer in Athens - Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens
Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens - Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens
Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis

Momoyer in Athens - Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens
Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens - Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens
Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis

In each place they visit, they will perform a ritual dance, which is characteristic only to to Momoyer event. Pontic people will not dance this one in any other event. Sometimes, the bride may be stolen by a spectator and the Momoyer will come to the rescue. They will catch the culprit and take him to the police officer to arrest him. 

Momoyer in Athens - Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens
Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis

Momoyer in Athens - Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens
Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens - Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens
Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis

After the thief if arrested the bride is once more free to dance away!

Momoyer in Athens - Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
Momoyer in Athens
Greece. Attica. Kallithea. © George Tatakis
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Location

Momoyer in Athens

83 Mantzagriotaki Kallithea
Kallithea, Attica, Greece