OUR VILLAGE PERISTA
Have you ever visit Perista? Please Do SoIt is so Beutiful!!! Perista Waiting for You Discover your Roots
THE NAME "PERISTA"
Despite the efforts of many scholars, a source for the name of the village was never found. Theories do exist that advocate for a Slavic origin; however, Slavic dictionaries and the works of linguist Max Vasmer contain no written evidence of a similar name or similar-sounding word root. Professor Drandakis claims that the name is Greek, not Slavic, and that it comes from the Greek word "peristasis", meaning circumstance, or condition. He even points to the existence of several villages in northern Greece by the same name, including one in Eastern Thrace. In ancient times, a temple devoted to the Goddess of Peristasis did exist in Perista, according to the editors of the Historical Dictionary of the Athens Academy. It is possible that the village name originated from this temple, and that through the centuries, the name "Peristasis" was shortened or altered to "Perista". These particular academics completely rule out the possibility of the name being Slavic in origin.
In an 1886 map, titled "An atlas of Greek lands fighting for Independence" and produced by Russian philhellene Petrov, Perista is referred to as "Berista." In Latin, the name "perusta" means "scorched land," either as a result of fire or of extreme frost. By the same token, "Perusta ossa" means "scorched bones."
In Stamatakos' "Dictionary of Ancient Greek" the words/phrases "peristin," "peristaino," and "peristimi" are mentioned, each bearing the somewhat similar meanings of "hanging around," or being idle. Despite the confusion behind the meaning of the name "Peristian," which our ancestors may have used to refer to themselves, one thing is clear: they spoke Greek, and did so in the Doric dialect.
------------------------------------------------------------------------ ST. ATHANASIOS (297 - 373 AD)- OUR PATRON SAINT St. Athanasios was born in Alexandria of Egypt in 297 AD After a good education, he was ordained a deacon in Alexandria. At the time, some people were beginning to teach the wrong things about Jesus. One such person was a priest from Alexandria, whose name was Arius. Even though Athanasios was younger, he helped the Patriarch of Alexandria understand that Arius' teachings about Jesus were wrong. Soon Arius' teachings spread to Constantinople and other parts of the Christian world. King Constantine the Great called the First Ecumenical Council in 325 AD for the Church to decide once and for all, what the correct teachings were about Jesus. The Christians were beginning to divide themselves into two sides. Since Athanasios had written so much about the subject, he too, was invited to attend. The Council accepted the way Athanasios defined and explained the teachings about Jesus. Athanasios became Patriarch of Alexandria in 326 A. D. But he was to find many troubles and heartaches. Even though the First Ecumenical Council declared what were the true teachings about Jesus, it took quite awhile for the Christians in Egypt and elsewhere to accept the decisions. For forty-five years St. Athanasios continued to fight for his beliefs and he was sent into exile ten times. St. Athanasios finally died in exile in 373 AD The Church finally won out with the teachings the way St. Athanasios defined them. We find those definitions in the first seven articles of the Creed we recite at each Divine Liturgy every Sunday.
THE MIRACLE In 1924 Markos Botsaris died at HELIDONA a location close to Karpenisi. The Turkish Army went towards Messologi. The Turkish army passed through the village of Perista and all the villagers left Perista and began hiding at the caves of a close mountain called Anninos. From the mountain the villagers could see the Turkish army at the side of a hill called Stavroulis and happy because they escaped the danger they yelled : Tourkoi Tourkoi sto Stavrouli pezoi, kavalarei.
This phrase is alive today. Another relative lore with their escape to the caves is this one. While they were at the caves an old man appeared with wavy gray hair, a long bear and shinny clothes. The old man let the Peristians understand that they had to leave the caves because something very bad was about to happen. The women and the children immediately evacuated the biggest cave. The cave broke down to pieces a few minutes later. The villagers survived and Saint Athanasios (AGIOS THANASIS) did the miracle. According to the lore that old man was Saint Athanasios ----------------------------------------------------------- History In a snug northwestern corner of the mountainous region of Nafpaktia - just where the borders of Evritania and Trichonida meet - lies the little village of Perista. It consists of about 200 little white houses, and rests on the western face of the Xerovouni mountain. A small plateau sticks out along the bottom edge of the village, extending in length from Stavrouli to the Prosilia, and all the way to Karoula, giving villagers the illusion of stability and security. In reality, the plateau is what keeps the villagers from being constantly aware of the abyss that lies below them: the deep ravines of Lidora and of Saras, which lead - almost at a sharp, vertical drop - to the dark green waters of the Kakkavos and Fidari rivers down below.
The beautiful but wild scenery does lead one to wonder: why would any people want to populate such a desolate area?
Demographically speaking, Perista is shrinking. Its permanent inhabitants have been dwindling in number, but small pockets of Peristians still live in Thermo, Agrinio, Nafpakto and Mesologgi, in Patras and in Athens, Thessaloniki and many other major Greek cities. Peristians have emigrated to the United States, Canada, and Australia. All of this may have started when the road from Thermo was finally built, and was subsequently extended past Perista to Platanos and finally Nafpaktos and the world beyond.
There is evidence that there was life in the village in ancient times. Papanikolas dug up some old copper weapons, pots, and pans when he first planted his vineyards at Prosilia during the Balkan wars. Other examples include the large ancient vessels found shortly before Papanikolas' time at Lainakia, the Byzantine tower above Ai-Lia, and the traces of ancient buildings at Lakoi.
At the start of the eighteenth century, the village consisted of 15 large families, seven priests, and three churches. At the time, the village itself was situated slightly below its present position, on the plateau between Lakk's, Kallikranias, and Kokkaliaras.
The village's patron church was Agios Apostolos, but it sank and was destroyed during a great mudslide in 1917. A smaller church was also located at Mantzodimitreika, near the Kostaiki Fountain, and a third one later became the village's main church; it was located behind the old St. Athanasios.
Head priest was Father Papainaki-Economos (1745-1830); subsequent generations of priests included the more recent Papageorgis, Papailias, and Papanikolas. The latter served the village community for a full 30 years not only as priest, but also as a leader, folk doctor, veterinarian, and engineer. Papainaki was also an important figure during the Greek fight for independence, since he was one of the few people in the mountainous Nafpaktia region with a house spacious enough for secret meetings and conferences.
Village life was calm and prosperous during the years following the Revolution. Sloping mountainsides were being cultivated with wheat, corn, and bean plants, as well as apple, pear, and cherry trees. Vineyards were a common sight as well. The agricultural produce was enough to feed not only the region's inhabitants, but was also plentiful enough to be exported for profit. Sheep, cows, mules, pigs and chickens also dotted the landscape, and provided the villagers with animal pelts and dairy products, used both for their own consumption and also for trade at other villages. The most profit-making enterprise for the villagers by far, however, was the silkworm trade. They sold the cocoons - often for a good sum of money - to wholesalers who made the long trek from Patras or even Athens. The silkworm trade was so profitable, in fact, that it led one Akropolis journalist to describe Perista as "the poorest village in Greece with the richest inhabitants."
Very few traces of these profitable trades remain in the Perista of today. Many say that the greatest blow to the village economy was a great mudslide - estimated to have occurred about 150 years ago - which resulted in about a third of the Xerovouni mountainside sliding down about 500 meters to dam up the swollen Kakkavo river.The river eventually burst through the dirt dam, hopelessly destroying the road and taking with it trees and property.
Houses may have been rebuilt and lands re-cultivated, but the consequences were long lasting. A major water source for the village was lost when the stream bearing water to Giona (near the top of the village) was rerouted, and ended up pouring into the Kakkavos farther downriver. The stream had been used to water the same trees whose leaves were used to feed the silkworms. Eventually, the trees slowly withered, the silkworm trade suffered, the lush gardens dried up, and the livestock died out; as a result, poverty became a daily fixture of village life.
But men do not give up as easily as nature. The men of the village began to depart for better, more fertile lands. At first they headed for "Vlaxia" (Romania), where some believed that milk and honey flowed freely in the streets. They left in caravans, either by foot or on their already burdened mules, laden with belongings. The crossed through the Ottoman-occupied lands of Thessalia, across the Greek region of Macedonia and into Bulgaria, finally reaching the Danube and Romania. The entire trip took six months.
Those that did not meet with success in Romania crossed the Atlantic to try their luck in the United States. A few of the first Peristians to make the trek included Xatzinikolaou, Kommatas, Tarkazikis, Sakellaris, Andreopoulos and others. Each of them left at a very young age, during the last decade of the 1800s. Their financial success in the United States acted as a catalyst for the rest of the village men, causing a mass exodus of almost biblical proportions in the years preceding the Balkan wars (1912-4). The years following the exodus were prosperous ones for Perista, since the constant flow of dollars from the US served to build the church, the school, and the village roads.
The village was left with nothing but women, infants, elementary-school aged children, and the very elderly. Two men - and priests at that - lived permanently in the village. The first was Papanikolas, a dynamic, knowledgeable figure. The second was Daniel (Dimitrios Thanasoulis), who became a monk and a hermit. He lived near Pirgouli, where he devoted himself to God and nature, and during his lifetime contributed greatly to the esthetic and religious life of Perista. He was responsible for building Ai-Lias, the little church located on the road towards the village of Platanos, and renovating the church of Aghia Sotira. He also dug wells, planted hundreds of trees, and built a guest house for visitors and travelers in the area. Daniel died when he was hit by a mortar round during the war, in 1948.
In the years following World War II, it was not only men but entire families that left the village to seek a better life elsewhere - either in the cities of Greece or in other continents, including the United States and Australia. What remains in Perista today are 200 well-built homes, and most of them are empty during the winter months. A few elderly women are the permanent inhabitants of the village, and they live far from their children and grandchildren, waiting for the time when they will join their buried family members in the village graveyard.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- TOPOGRAPHY & GEOGRAPHY
Perista is perched upon a rather steep slope of Xerovouni, a mountain whose eastern face looks over the vast green depths of the Patras sea. The mountain is located in a region known since Roman times as Kravara - named as such for its rockiness. ("Gravus" in Latin means heavy, something that cannot be lifted.) On its eastern face, Xerovouni is barren, lacking in the growth of trees and shrubs. But on its other faces and on areas closest to its base, grow many different species of trees and other forms of plant life. One particular plant grows there, more precious than all the others. It blooms and May and is ripe for picking in June. It is the plant from which mountain tea is obtained, and it was valuable because it served the villagers as a panacea for all sorts of illnesses. The lush green portions of the mountain are also characterized by the plentiful flow of fresh water; streams branch out and crisscross over Xerovouni's slopes, quenching the thirst of plants, animals, and humans alike. Directly above the village lies a thick curtain of forest, providing ample food for grazing sheep and goats.
The naked, weather-beaten peak of Psoriari rises to the west of Xerovouni; the two mountains are connected by the small hilltops of Aghia Sotira, which rise between them. It was originally nicknamed "Psoriari" (it means "to suffer from scabies" or "to be covered in rags") because the mountain soil was infertile and poor in quality, but the unfortunate name stuck.
The mountain upon which the village of Perkos rests is slightly lower, but in the same range as, Psoriari. The territory of Perkos is divided from Perista's by a deep ravine called Kakkavos. The ravine carries fresh cold water, derived from the melting snow and ice at the mountain top, and it tends to overflow during raging winter storms; it empties into the river Fidaris (also known as Evinos) down below. The source of the river Fidari is in the northwest region of Bardousia, and its name is derived from its snakelike curves (Fidi=snake). Its mouth lies near the historical city of Mesologgi, in the gulf of Patras. Besides the Kakkavos between Perko and Perista, other ravines that conduct water into the Fidaris include the Vrostiani ravine, the Stiliorema, the Kastania, the Skotini of Pelista, the Klepas, the Kakkavos of Sinista, the Kakkavos of Koutoulistia, and the Votsaitikos Kakkavos ravines.
Aninos, a mountain about 2,000 meters in altitude, towers over Perista in the north, and a number of unexplored caves lie gaping at its base. Central portions of its slopes are barren also, and reflect the light of the sun, thanks to the dark blue color of the granite in its rocks.
The village itself is located in one of Greece's most mountainous regions. The village square resides at an altitude of 850m. Xerovouni is at a height of 1,575m., Ano Melokedra 1,384m., Psoriaris is at 1,404m.,Agiasotira at 1,120m., Ai-Lias at 1,100m.
Aninos at whose base lies the river Evinos, rises to an altitude of 1,703m., Arapokefala has a height of 1,716m., Sarandena reaches 1,610m., and Karfopetalias 1,500m. Other tall mountains in the area include Alonakis with an altitude of 1,422m. and Ardini with 1,703m. Also in the area is the mountain of Apodotia (also known as Papadia), whose highest peak has an altitude of 1,714m. the village of Lombotina (Ano-Hora) lies at the foot of the mountain. Nearby lies the village of Trikorfo with an altitude of 1,736m.
Due to the steepness of the slope upon which Perista is located, the soil can only be contained for cultivation by man-made plateaus. The soil itself tends to be reddish in color, and contains an wide variety of minerals, but is poor when it comes to large-scale agricultural production. The territory of Perista extends to include about 12,000 acres in all.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ CULTURE & CUSTOMS
FESTIVALS The microphone and sound system obviously became a fixture at the annual summer festivals only in recent years. The microphone itself is necessary to allow the singer's voice to rise above the music produced by the loud instruments in the band, particularly the clarinet. The real drama starts after midnight, when those who have - by this point - had quite a bit to drink continue dancing, while others go home to try and sleep, despite the blaring megaphones in the village square. If the festivities continue past midnight, the police rarely intervenes. There is no such thing as "disturbing the peace" during a village festival!
New additions to village festivals include DJs and even female singers, whose job it is to spice up the musical menu with more modern "rembetica" or "laika" songs. Beer is also a new addition to the tables laid out in the square; in past days, "kokkineli" wine was the only alcoholic drink available, but now younger generations of Peristians demand beer as well.
There is no real "tourism" in Perista, as far as the typical meaning of the word is concerned. But there is a small wave of "internal" tourists - tourists from other parts of Greece, or Peristians living abroad - who visit the village in the summertime. It is during the summer months when one most easily notices the tension between the women who live in the village permanently and those women who left the village at a young or marriageable age to live in abroad or in Greek cities, but who return to the land of their birth for vacation. The city women go to great lengths to "lose" the traditional dialect used by Peristians, but after a few months back in the village, they forget their city ways and return to the ways and customs they knew as children.
AMERICAN CUSTOMS AT PERISTIAN WEDDINGS There is a certain custom which made its way to the village from Peristians living in America: the public kiss. The adopted custom has been integrated into the traditional Peristian wedding in the following manner: On Sunday afternoon, the "reception" is held in the village square. Large, long tables are laid side by side, with the bride and groom in the middle and their families on either side. Guests are seated all over the square, at other long tables. There is plenty of food and drink. As the band plays wedding songs, the first sounds of forks clinking against glasses and plates become audible. The sounds become louder, and more demanding, and the groom appeases the gathering of guests by kissing his bride. The custom has also become popular at other villages in the area.
Old customs were filled with rich, historical and religious symbolism, but at present they have been altered or simplified to the extent that they have almost completely disappeared. No one person has managed to completely embrace and practice the customs kept by our ancestors, and if one is ever found - a rarity indeed - then he or she is made the object of ridicule and criticism for being too "backward." As a result, a new mother today will refuse to remain locked up in her house for forty days after giving birth, as the custom requires. She will wash her clothes before the forty days have passed and may not even take her newborn to church. In the same vein, the customs surrounding funerals have changed or completely disappeared. They have been streamlined to the point where only those practices dictated by the church are followed. Thus, old customs die out or are adapted to a more modern way of life, while new ones are slowly becoming entrenched in the village way of life.
Even small villages have their own soccer teams. The soccer team now has special uniforms, their own equipment and soccer balls, and even wooden goal posts (but without nets!). Often there are meets between different village soccer teams; for instance, Perista's team "Proschiakos" often plays against the "Soccer Association of Platanos."
THE LITTLE RADIO IN THE KAFENIO In order for a city person to even conceive of the huge social importance of one little radio in the village coffee shop, or "kafenio," he or she would have to imagine times of Nazi occupation in Athens, when entire families would gather around one radio to listen to the BBC report worldwide news. Like them, villagers would gather around the radio in the kafenio to listen to news, church services, election results, popular music, and more. The kafenio owner was always careful to take note of the times when shows featuring popular music were on, so that he could be sure to have the little radio blasting for his customers. The kafenio-radio phenomenon began to disappear, of course, after the widespread availability of the transistor radio and television allowed villagers to listen to news on their own, in their homes.
SUING FOR DAMAGES
It doesn't happen often, but when it does, someone has to pay. One villager's wandering livestock can cause extensive damage to another villager's crops and carefully cultivated fields. A villager with a complaint of that sort will present himself and his story to the local officer of law enforcement, who tries to mediate, differentiating between one villager's contradicting story and another's. The end result? The officer continues his "investigation," but the law suit that is eventually filed lists "unknown persons" as the defendants...
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ SOCIAL RELATIONS
MUTUAL ASSISTANCE Villagers helped and depended upon each other, for aid in digging up their fields, for sowing their seed, for harvesting their crops, in every aspect of agriculture. Women were often seen carrying loads of firewood strapped to their backs, walking to the homes of less fortunate families in the village who could not provide for themselves. Today, villagers don't shy away from community projects either, since they are always ready to respond to a call of help from local leaders or committees.
FEAST DAY CELEBRATIONS
The family sponsoring the celebration was up very early in the day. The father and children went to church to light a candle to their patron saint in thankfulness. When services were over, people gather in the coffee shops, where those who were celebrating their feast (name) day were expected to buy everyone else coffee and drinks. A group of young people might gather their own instruments or encourage a band to start playing as they walked to the homes of those celebrating, where the mother had prepared a table laden with fruit, wine, spinach and cheese pies, and more. It was not considered proper, however, to serve sweet dishes when someone had their name day. The band played till the wee hours of the morning, as everyone ate, drank, and made merry.
FAMILY STRUCTURE In the Perista of old - as in many areas of Greece and the rest of the world - family structure was extremely patriarchal in nature. The "father knows best" notion was only occasionally eclipsed by the opinions of the elders, such as a grandmother or grandfather living under the same roof. Women married young, often even before the age of twenty. They sometimes referred to their husbands - with a touch of sarcasm - as their "crowns," a reference to the crowns that highlight an Orthodox wedding service. A wife, in turn, became known in the village by her husband's name, as in "Yianna" (Yianni's wife) or "Nikkaina" (Niko's wife). It rarely worked the other way around, where a husband would become known by his wife's first name, but when it did, you can bet that the woman in question had a pretty strong personality! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ THE PERISTIAN WOMEN
Since Peristian men often spent the majority of the year working abroad, either in the US or in major Greek cities, it was the women who assumed the responsibilities of the household. The typical Peristian woman knew how to sew, iron, and do laundry; she watched after children and livestock. Not only was she highly capable in terms of household duties, but she was equally capable outside of it: she was a skilled diplomat when it came to brokering land deals and livestock trade agreements with other villagers, careful not to step on any toes and to cultivate friendships when they were needed. Women would take to the fields to do backbreaking work, clearing them of weeds and cultivating valuable crops, and the village would reverberate with their song even as they were doing so. These women knew how to work hard, but they also knew how to play hard when the time was right. During festivals and religious celebrations, they would dress up in all their finery and live it up with the best of them. At times like this, their clothing was characterized by a kind of Doric simplicity and elegant grandeur. The dress that they wore on a daily basis was characterized by a number of pleats, and was usually knee-length. The dress was short for a number of reasons, one of the most important being the fact that women were often working in the fields, up to their knees in mud. The dress length is reminiscent of Amazons and/or the classical Greek goddess Artemis; in both cases, dress length was an issue of practicability more than anything else. On top of the dress - which was usually a single, dark color - they wore an apron, tied at the waist; young girls wore brightly-colored aprons (yellow and red), while married and older women wore dark-colored aprons.
They wore thick woolen stockings, especially during the winter. Their church and feast-day shoes were shiny black patent leather, but to work in the fields they wore "rodes," - literally, "tires" - shoes with thick rubber soles. "Papakia" were canvas shoes with light rubber soles, also worn on a daily basis. During the winter, older women would wear an additional item of clothing - called the "siarka" - which resembled a long woolen vest, with no sleeves and buttons running down the front. It was often embroidered with colorful, fancy designs. A final but necessary accessory was the head kerchief; like the apron, it was brightly colored when worn by a young woman, but dark for older and married women -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- THE MULE DRIVERS (Agogiates) In the days before asphalt roads and the advent of automobiles in the mountainous regions of Nafpaktos, mule-driving traders were plentiful, especially during the Turkish occupation. Traders would take their mules down to the nearest city, such as Nafpakto or Thermo, and carry back needed goods - and sometimes luxuries such as white soap and pretty trinkets for young women - to sell them or trade them in the isolated villages they visited with their burdened mules.
Each of these traders kept at least one or two mules in his stable, and took excellent care of his animals, because he obviously depended on them for his earnings. The traders would leave the village in large numbers, traveling together caravan-style; sometimes entire families and their mules would go along with them. They would leave by night, and reach the city just as dawn was breaking; all their purchases would be made during the day, and they'd leave for the village again by the next nightfall.
The bells ringing around the necks of the mules were joined by the bell-like voices of the single men and women - young adults - who rode them on these trips, which usually lasted six hours or more. They kept themselves busy by singing songs about love and heartache, and sang so merrily that people in the villages they passed on their way to Thermo or Nafpaktos wondered if Perista was a place untouched by the poverty and death that plagued their own villages. There are stories of many budding romances flourishing on trips such as these; one story holds that a young couple would repeatedly sneak to the back of the caravan, which resulted in the young man's losing his footing in the darkness. He slipped down the steep slope to the bank of the river Fidaris down below, but was lucky enough to land in a patch of sand and come away unharmed. He slipped into ... the bonds of holy matrimony just a few weeks later!
Mules and donkeys are now a rarity in Perista. A few villagers still keep donkeys to assist them in their agricultural needs, but the automobile and mass transit have eliminated the need for mule-drivers and traders. Those days and stories are now a part of a rich cultural past, not just of Perista, but of all the villages in the area. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
VARIOUS CUSTOMS AND SUPERSTITIONS
* On New Year's Eve, women took care to tend the fire all night long, and never let it go out. * No one was allowed to work on St. Theodore's feast day; on this day, unwed women would put a piece of meat pie underneath their pillows so they could dream of the man they were to marry. * Unwed girls were said to untie their garters when they saw the first moon of Easter, so that their luck could also be "untied" and they could marry soon.
*.A woman who had just touched a dead person was not supposed to plant pumpkins; she could dig the hole, but someone else had to drop the seed in. * The first girl to become engaged in a new year was supposed to untie her garter so that other girls would have similar luck during the year ahead. * Hitting one's self in the eye was supposed to be prophetic of a letter or money on its way. * When a cat groomed its face using its paw, villagers predicted rainy weather. * Children wore brightly colored yarn bracelets during the early days of March; mothers placed them there so that they would not get burned during the coming summer months. * A child's first haircut was to be given by another child whose parents were still alive. * Hunters never weighed the rabbits they had just shot, for fear that they'd never be able to hit another one. * Married couples who had been married less than forty days were not supposed to watch another marriage ceremony in progress. Instead, the new wife stood at the church doorway, and was one of the first to double-kiss the bride when the bride and groom moved to the outside of the church. * During the time of month when there is a new moon, grape vines were not supposed to be trimmed, because it was believed that doing so would prevent a good crop in the next season. * Women collected stray hairs from their combs and stuffed them into cracks in the wall, so they could grow better, thicker hair afterwards.
FOLK AND HERBAL MEDICINE, MAGIC & SPELLS
Perista's isolated location made it necessary for villagers to develop their own folk and herbal remedies to either completely cure or at least soften the blow of a serious disease. Most of these remedies were transmitted by word of mouth from father to son and grandfather to grandson; many of them had a sort of magic or superstitious quality about them which may have served to quell the villager's fears, but did nothing to cure the disease itself.
* Penicillin was being used by many of Perista's folk doctors long before Fleming made his discoveries ..known to the world. They would place moldy bread on deep wounds and skin infections to prevent further ..infection and clear up what was there. Moldy foods were commonly ingested during the great hunger that ..plagued the village in 1941, mostly for preventive reasons. * When someone lost a tooth, they would throw it over the roof of the house and say: "Take a tooth of ..bone and give me back one of steel." * When a child who had not been baptized fell gravely ill, villagers rushed to baptize it for two reasons: ..one, unbaptized children could not be buried according the rites of the church; and two, the holy waters ..used during the baptism were thought to have healing powers. * Cysts, warts, and blisters were thought to disappear only after one urinated on them. * Shreds of leather were placed inside deep cuts to stop the bleeding. * "Chrisi" (gold) is the name of a thin membrane that connects the upper lip to the upper jaw. A patient ..suffering from jaundice was cured by having this membrane cut with a small knife (the disease was also ..called "chrisi" because the sick person's skin had a gold tinge to it). The procedure could only be done ..on Thursdays or Saturdays for it to be effective. * Corns and calluses were cured by placing pieces of fried tomatoes or onions on the affected areas. * Mushrooms were thought to have healing powers, but only those with a stripe across their stem. * It was important to remove the "dead" blood from a hurt or bruised part of the body. Leeches were used ..for this purpose, as was a cylindrical instrument (aptly called a "sucker"). Both ends of the sucker were ..open; one was placed against the wound, and the dead" blood was sucked out from the other end, ..similar to the way one would use a straw. * They used leaves from the cornel and quince trees to treat diarrhea; these were thought to "tighten up" .the intestines. * Sap from evergreen trees was used to treat kidney and liver diseases. * Raki was rubbed on the chest and back to loosen phlegm and alleviate cold symptoms. * Ear infections were treated by inserting a cone made of paper and a layer of wax into the ear. The broad ..part of the cone, which was sticking out of the ear, was set on fire; the heated wax was supposed to ..absorb the impurities from the ear canal that were causing the infection. * People sleeping outdoors during summer nights ate lots of garlic to keep snakes away. * Burns were treated by placing oil and/or ink over the affected areas. -Pinched nerves in the hand or foot ..were treated by rubbing them with soap and water. * The "evil eye" was thought to be extremely powerful. It could make a person ill, kill someone's livestock, ..even cause wine to sour. It could only be "cured" by a few elderly women in the village, who knew the ..correct incantations and prayers to say over the head of the afflicted person.
Through the years, the people of Perista created many opportunities for escape from their daily routines, from the cares of ordinary life. Festivals had high social and economic importance for villages in the area - it brought people from many of these villages together that, during other times of the year, almost never met.
On June 30th, Perista celebrates the festival for the Holy Apostles. The festival for St. Elias the Prophet is held on July 20. Before the sun even rises over the Psoriari mountain, one can see villagers - women dressed in their finest traditional wear - climbing the hill to the church of St. Elias. Some climb by foot, some ride on mules and donkeys to get there in time for the church service. After services, the villagers drink and dance in the church courtyard, and continue the merriment in the village square later that afternoon.
The Metamorphosis of Sotiros is celebrated on August 6, and is by far one of the largest and well-attended festivals of the year. Peristians return from Athens, Agrinio, Nafpakto and the US to attend the festival, as do people from nearby villages such as Platanos, Vonorta, Milos, and Perkos. After the church service at St. Sotira, and a short outdoor lecture by the head priest, dancing commences in the open area outside the church, with Peristians and people from Platanos leading the way. In the afternoon, the festivities continue in Perista's central square, accompanied by some of the finest live bands and clarinet players in all of Roumeli.
The festival of the Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 23, but without the accompaniment of modern musical instruments: the only instruments leading the festivities are the reed pipe and the tambourine. The festival of the Baptist is held on August 29; villagers wake at the crack of dawn to visit the Church of the Prodromos, bearing seasonal fruit and vegetables to offer to the saint.
The people of Perista do not limit themselves simply to their own festivals, however. Their enduring thirst for fun and human contact lead them to those of other villages as well. They go to Vonorta, to the festival of St. Taxiarchis at Perko, to that of St. John at Kastania, to that of St. Marina at Tripitsa, and of course to that of the Virgin Mary at Prousos. In return for a favor or a blessing, some make promises to the Holy Mother that they will make the twelve hour trip on foot and without shoes, and so it is not unusual to see these faithful people making the difficult trek on August 23.
LEGENDS OF THE KRAVARA REGION
KRAVARA: It is believed that on the second day of creation, God passed some dirt through a sieve, and used the soft dirt to make valleys so that delicate, pious people could live in them. He used the hard rocks left over inside the sieve to make the tall, barren mountains of the Kravara region: these were built to punish the sinners who would one day live in them.
LOMBOTINA: The people of Lombotina once decided to build a massive church to meet all of the varied religious needs of the villagers. They soon ran out of the stones they were using to build the church, and everyone feared the church would remain unbuilt. On a certain Sunday, the villagers were worshiping at Aghia Paraskevi when loud rumbling noises were heard outside the church. They ran out to see a large mass of stones - pushed almost as if by the hand of a deity - tumbling down the slope of Tsonaki mountain in the direction of the unbuilt church. The miracle was attributed to St. Paraskevi.
PLATANOS: There are stories of people in Platanos who have seen fairies and ghosts. One young woman said she was at Gioni Lakoula when she saw naked fairies, who made a circle around her and forced her to dance with them. Others say that the water at Kouritas, across from the church of Platanos, is protected by a ghost, as is the water at Brochotini, across from the church at Vonorta. The two ghosts are rivals, and fight at a place near both villages called Demonologgo (valley of the demons). They also believe that if the church bells at Platanos ring earlier than the bells at Vonorta on Easter Saturday, then many people will die in Vonorta in the coming year.
VONORTA: There is a place called Kefalosara, meaning "a downhill path full of heads." Legend has it that many people got drunk at a festival in this location once, drew their swords, and loped off each other's heads, causing sixty heads fell to the ground. The village got the name "Fonorta" (Fonos = murder) from this incident, but with time it was altered to "Vonorta."
ARAHOVA: A man named Fragos once passed a water fountain in the village, and stopped to drink since he was thirsty. The water was so cold that he dropped dead on the spot, and now it's called "Fragopoulos fountain." Another Arahova legend is that of a priest who went to the monastery of Simeon to preach. When he finished the services, he asked for money from the monastery heads, who refused to give it to him because he had asked for too much. He left angrily but was shot on his way out by a strange Albanian man, and fell dead upon a rock. His bloody handprint remains on the rock to this day, where it serves as a reminder to men of the church to refrain from greed.
Sitista: The village Sitista is known today as "Grammeni Oxia" (carved tree). The legend says that a group of militant rebels and their leader once stood underneath a tree on a high cliff, when a strong wind came and blew many of the rebels off the cliff. Those who survived did so by clutching onto the lower branches of the tree. They subsequently carved the date of this incident into the tree bark as a reminder.
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