MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF LEFKADA
The highlight of preparations for Christmas is the baking of the “Christopsomo” (Christ-bread) or “Christokoulouro”. First the consecrated bread is made, the prosforo, little rolls offered at the Eucharist and stamped with the house stamp, and then the Christmas loaves (Christopsoma ): for Christmas Eve in the shape of a cross, the New Year’s Eve loaf and the so-called Vlaches (in shapes of female dolls) and the Doxaria (shaped in a plait) for the children of the family and for the orphans and the poor children.
In the town, the custom to welcome in the New Year is to the sound of the ‘music of Diana’ . ‘Diana’ here is a hymn for the morning, a lively composition played by the Philharmonic.
Epiphany (Ta Theophania)
In Lefkada town the benediction of the waters takes place with grandeur . Once the churches have conducted the holy ritual of the day, the Metropolitan starts out from the church of Evangelistria, at the head of a crowd of believers, the entire devout procession decked with the hexapteryga (discs showing seraphim) lanterns and ‘skolas’ (banners of the guilds) and of course the holy icon of the Baptism.
They reach the harbour where the cross is cast into the sea. Some of the faithful dive in to recover it and others, the majority, hold oranges with their stalks joined to a string which they submerge in the sea three times at the same moment as the Metropolitan casts the cross. These blessed oranges are then hung on icons.
On the last Sunday of Carnival, the town organises a great parade of imaginatively disguised revellers on floats which, accompanied by masked pedestrians also in costume, head down the market street spreading jokes, teasing, fun and conviviality.
Easter week – Easter
The procession of the Easter Bier (Epitaphios) takes place on the evening of Good Friday. In the town, where every church has its own Bier , each parades it in its local quarter , whereas that of the Metropolitan church ends in the central square, having gone along the market street accompanied by the officials and the Philharmonic. From the early hours on Easter Saturday the atmosphere becomes celebratory. In the morning the Philharmonic enters the market street, playing marches -- the signal for housewives to throw fragile clay pots from up high, making a terrific clatter as they smash, thus breaking the mourning of Holy Week or , according to others, killing Judas who betrayed Christ.
A number of folk and religious festivals are organised in the course of the summer months. These are listed in the municipal or prefectural programmes. The enactment of a village wedding in Karya and the lentil celebration in Aghios Donatos are of particular interest.