Naxos and Tradition

Naxos is an island with big interest. It has marvellous beauties. Naxos has an astonishing alternation of landscape with combination of mountainous and flat landscape in harmonious coexistence. It has immense sandy beaches, meadows with rich agricultural production. It has developed livestock-farming (cow-farming and breeding of sheep and goats). The products of Naxos have a particular qualitative and tasty flavour (potatoes, orange, lemons, cheeses, meat etc).

Naxos has a rich historical but also folklore tradition. The island is interesting by a lot options, it has life and movement all the seasons of year. The history is impressed in the rich historical monuments of all time periods: from the prehistory up to our days: cycladic culture,archaic temples and statues (eg kouroi), archaeological places of all periods, ancient and medieval castles, a lot Byzantine churches with hagiographies that characterize the island as a second Mystra of Aegean sea, medieval towers, statues from people that participated, offered important services or were sacrificed in the big fights of nation (eg in the Revolution 1821, in the Macedonian fight, in the national resistance etc).

But in the folk culture Naxos presents also appreciable samples and in particular many types of activities in all the seasons of year. Crowd from folk customs, tradition, fairy tales, narrations, incidents from various work of all year, from various events of human life, anecdotes, proverbs, folk songs, special doggerels (they are said "kotsakIa"), rich carnival tradition(koudounatoi, kordelatoi), parades “Bairakia”  folk events (that is to say humorous sketches, caustic dialogues) etc An especial faculty of people of Naxos is to express their happiness and their sorrows, the thoughts and their activities with verses many times. The folk poetry has wide distribution in Naxos.

The folk activity is supplemented by the social and cultural activity. In almost all the villages are established cultural associations that try to make the life in the villages more comfortable and to retain (as long as depend on them) the population in the villages by contributing to become certain works in the villages but mainly by maintaining the rich musical and dancing tradition.

The music and the dance in Naxos is not a tourist form of survival, but are a alive way of life that comes from past years but also is maintained live up to our days. This continuity of culture elects a crowd artists, young and olds that rescue the tradition but also that gives beauty in various events of life. Islander Syrtos, Balos with the traditional music instruments the violin, the lute, but also the tzampouna compose the particular artistic and entertaining "colour" that is present in weddings, in festivals, in events of associations and moves emotionally young and olds, villagers and bourgeois, local and visitors of the island and rescue hearings Byzantines and ancient Greek's.

In the cafes of villages the visitor of  the island has the opportunity to converse with ordinary persons of the local population that (speaking in the local idiom of the island) and with their philosophy, kindness, the hospitable attitude make the visitor of island feel as he is in his own "house"

Note: Many of the activities of folk culture are contained in the book of Naxean folklorist academic professor Manolis Sergi in the work "Folklore and Ethnographic from the Glinado Naxos" (Athens 1994), in books of professor of Folklore Dimitrios Oikonomidis etc.

Naxos allocates a rich religious tradition. Beyond by the fact that this is proved by the Saints that emerged (Saint Nicodimos the Mount Athon's monk, Saint Nicodimos Planas), this is testified also by the a lot (roughly 600) big or small graphic churches in the city and in the remainder island, many by which they are used and (successively) assemble faithfuls all the year. Particular picturesqueness have the chappels in Chora of Naxos, in the labyrinthine area of old Chora, but also in the country, in cultivated fields etc.

With all that we have already mentioned before and by the fact that Naxos is a alive place with churches, schools, tuition centres of foreigner languages, conservatoire, grounds, athletic teams, banks, services, confectioneries, cafeterias, centres of entertainment, cafes etc is a place that with the alive mores and customs and the way of life of the residents, the social and cultural activities, is a place of interest not only for visit each season of year, but also for permanent residence. The way of life of her residents has not been degraded by no means by the big number of tourists that visits the aestival months, but on the contrary the visitors is adapted easily in the way of life of residents and it is not a particularity themselves, but a piece of life of the city and the island organically tied up with the way of life of  the residents. Tradition has the force of each creative assimilative effect to new.

Ioannis Logaras

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