Photo: © G. Gkoutzourelas Skyros Island Friends - Facebook Team
If you love carnival festivities and you are looking for authentic customs during this period, then Skyros is the perfect place to experience the Greek carnival. During the carnival period, the village is literally vibrating with ear-piercing sound explosions of bells, songs, voices, delirious screams, extrovert movements, contacts and colorful blasts. Every year on this beautiful island revives an ancient custom related to Dionysian rituals. The custom is associated with three figures, the “Yeros” (Elder), the “Corella” and the “Frangos”. According to local tradition, the “Yeros” represents a shepherd who lost all of his sheep due to the harsh winter. He put on the bells of the dead animals and, along with his wife who was dressed in rags, wandered the streets of the island to announce the tragic event to fellow villagers.
Yeri (Elders) are men dressed in black woolen gowns, white shepherds’ rough trousers and a mask made of little goats’ skins, yet the most spectacular aspect of their attire is the animal bells they wear round their waist. Yeros is accompanied by “Corella”, a female figure dressed with traditional clothes of Skyros having her face also covered. Finally, “Frnagos” is a comic figure who wears a mask and a large bell in the middle and takes his name from the fact that he is the only character of the Skyrian Carnival who does not wear traditional clothes, but jacket and trousers, that is, Frankish clothes, according to European standards. This figure satirizes the habitants of Skyros who took off their breeches and wore modern clothes.
Groups of those three figures wander the streets of the island, sing and dance, giving a unique joyful and at the same time mysterious tone to the celebration. The ringing bells are so uniquely primordial that sound for weeks on the island and offer joy and mysterious majesty to the little town. Coorella, when Yeros stands to rest, dances her carnival dance around him, always waving her handkerchief.
Another custom of Skyros Carnival that takes place on the last Sunday in the central square of Chora, is the custom of “Trata”. This custom is a representation of naval life, where fishermen mostly satirize metrical situations and events relating to Greek daily life. The carnival in Skyros closes on Shrove Monday in the central square of Chora. The majority of the island’s residents wear their traditional local costumes and gather in the square, where they sing and dance local dances. The fiesta is accompanied by traditional food and local wine.