Serifos's traditional carnival, Kapetania.

The traditional event of the ''Kapetania'' takes place on the last Sunday of the Carnival in Serifos Island. According to tradition, two teams, each one with a captain, stage a theatrical conflict outside the Monastery of the Taxiarches. The custom has been kept alive thanks to the efforts of the Serifos Women's Association.
Photography / Text: Chloe Kritharas - Devienne

The "Kapetania" of Serifos takes place on Saturday, two days before Ash Monday. The day marks the beginning of the 40 days of fast before Easter.


During this custom,  people from the island march together, from village to village, accompanied by local musicians who play traditional music from Serifos. 

I  started earlier around 11 because I also wanted to be dressed in the traditional costume. So I walked on foot from the village of Chora to the house where people got dressed in Livadi, the local port village.The atmosphere was already full of joy, music and teenagers were getting dressed. One in a while you could hear someone screaming '' Peeeetrooooos !!! Where is my scarff !!! '' or '' who wants some wine !!! come and eat !!! '' excitement was all over the place, the dinning table was set with plenty of fat carnival food with eggs, meet, cheese, cakes with honey and of course Greek alcohol, tsipouro and several local wines.

So I got dressed by an old woman, kiria Eleni, and when everyone was ready we started the march to the port. At the front row of the parade, children, teenagers and some adults were playing the local music. All the people of Livadi where waiting for us, then they started the cycladic traditional dances around the captain. Food and alcohol all around again. Then off to the next village, Chora.

At each village people danced, ate carnival food had drinks offered by the villagers. One of the most important moments of the '' Kapetania '' is the staged fight between the captains from the two different teams, in front of the Monastery of the Archangel's. The goal was to catch the flag of the other team and bring it back to his team. When this took place, I almost thought it was a real fight, people jumping on top of each other, trying to snatch the flag, it was kind of scary. After 10 minutes of chaos one of them, started running out of the mass holding the flag, screaming '' I got the flag I got it !!! '' and then all his team congratulated him and then started dancing to traditional music, all together ... 

You could see all kind of ages, from babies to elderly people, dressed up for the carnival. It ended up in the village of Panagia after passing through 4 other villages. At one point it started raining but the festivities didn't stop at all !

Some history 

This custom is said to have its roots in the 16th century and was called "lolopanigyro" until 1821.

After the struggles of the Greek nation,  it was influenced by the ''Peloponnisious ''captains who were established on the island and was renamed to "Kapetania" .The captain organized a team and his musicians, while the other people shared roles such as the captain's wife, the standard-bearer, the guard and warriors. The aim of both was to play a false fight between Greeks and different "enemies" (Turkish, Egyptian, Trojans, etc.). This dramatic conflict unfolded outside the Archangel Monastery, inside which they always entered at the end, together as a group to worship.

The monks offered them food and wine, and to thank them, the groups returned one week later to cultivate the vines of the monastery.

Serifos is once again full of smiling masked people, who make circles inside the villages, dancing to the traditional instruments, always passing by the Archangel Monastery. 

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Serifos's traditional carnival, Kapetania.

Unnamed Road Serifos
Serifos, South Aegean, Greece