Bonfires are lit on New Year's Eve to welcome the New Year. An ancient Pagan (Dionysian) custom on the shore of a beautiful, serene and at the same time surreal small village.
The fires of Christmas is an ancient custom that is very widespread in the villages around Florina in Greece. Large bonfires are being set in central squares and each village tries to make a bigger and better fire than their neighbors.
While waiting for the fire of Achlada to start at midnight, a custom that takes place in many villages around Florina on December 23, the guys we met there told us to go together at the next village, Giourouki, to see the fire there as well. They would start that earlier than Achlada, since that was a smaller village and most of the local people there would visit the big fire of Achlada later.
Children gathered wood and straw balls, they would like to make the fire as big as possible. The biggest of course is always the one in the town of Florina, but them, they want at least to have a bigger fire than the one of the neighboring village of Yiourouki.
An ancient Dionysian custom that was brought from Asia Minor by the Pontic-Greek people who came to stay in Greece following the Lausanne treaty in 1923.
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.
During the first day of the year, in the town of Simitli in Bulgaria, the Kukeri custom takes place. A Dionysian custom from Thrace, where people are dressed in goat's skin, trying to chase away the Kallikantzaroi of Christmas.
On the day of Epiphany, January 6, in a village nearby Thessaloniki, called Profitis (Prophet), the custom of Arapides takes place. This is a Dionysian custom where people of the village are dressed in goat's skin, wear colorful long hats and hang large pastoral bells around their waists to scare away the Kallikantzaroi.