Arapides (masqueraded men with their faces and hands dyed with ash)
© Eastern Macedonia - Thrace Region
The Arapides custom is performed with variations at Monastiraki, Volakas and Nikisiani – Drama- on the Epiphany day. The main element of the performers’ masquerade is the black color: black long haired capes and impressive lofty visards –goat hats. Three big bells are hanging, tied around the performers’ weist. These men hold a long wooden sward along with a sachet filled with the ash of the Dodekaimeron. They flap people they meet as a movement for bringing good fortune to them.
The masqueraded team (tseta) is also constituted of “Galiges”, men dressed in traditional female costumes, “papoudes” with old festive costumes and “efzoni/tsoliades” dressed in the national costume that boosts the greek identity of the performers. They pass by the houses of the village accompanied by lira (chordophone instrument) and daires (membranophone) giving wishes and accepting treats. The team ends up its wandering in the square where it dances along with the attendants. It is the time when the bearman arrives –a man masked as a bear. This ritual has an intense Dionysian character and it is performed for having a fortunate year since its ending coincides with the imitation of seeding and plowing.
Arapides at Volakas have a humpback created by putting a rug with straws at the back of the performer. They hold a crook (a thick cane) which helps them to stand. They try to ring the bells hung around their weist through bending their body. They are accompanied by tsaousis and the bride.