KALI VRYSI (Prosotsani Municipality, Drama County)
“BABOUGERA” 6-8 January
The “Babougera” come out in the village after the blessing of the waters on January 6 (Epiphany feast). They await for people outside the church and they attack them playfully, hitting them with a small bag of ashes to exorcise evil. This ash is collected from fireplaces burned during the Twelve days of Christmas. They keep teasing people on the streets, houses and taverns.
Traditionally the men dress up as Babougera, however, nowadays few women and children also participate in this masquerade. They wear long white undergarment covering the legs and black fleece, sleeveless coat with a virtual hump. They cover their head with a goat shaped mask made of white woolen cloth. They denote the eyebrows, mustache and beard using pieces of goat skin with black fur. Two rows of beans form the denture. On their waist they tie four large cast bells (kupria) at the front and a wrought one (batali) at the back, the combination of which is done so as to produce harmonious sounds. Babougera are running, moving around nervously and bounce in groups causing a loud, but tuneful sound of bells, to waken sprouting forces of nature from the winter dormancy and to prevent evil.
On January 7 a feast is held in the village square and in the evening groups of Baboogera visit the homes of celebrants named John and bestow wishes.
On January 8 the custom culminates with the reenactment of a traditional wedding, a magical - ritual act that is considered to enhance the fertility of land, animals, and humans. The main characters are the groom and a man dressed as a bride, the best men, the Baboogera, who accompany the procession to the bride's house, and the old "Babo" – a midwife, portrayed by man wearing black women's clothes and have his face covered. The presence of the orchestra is essential, with instruments such as bagpipe and “dahare” (type of a frame drum). A young man plays the god Dionysus, a role added, supposedly, in recent decades, when the custom was associated with ancient Dionysian rites (in the region of Kali Vrysi has been found a sanctuary of Dionysus). They arrive at the bride's house and she follows the procession with her family. By provocative teasing and having her fertilizing power dispersed around the village, the procession ends up at the square, where Dionysus performs the wedding ceremony. Then the kidnapping of the bride by the Babougera is taking place. After her hypothetical impregnation and the transfer of the power of the nature’s seed, they return her to the groom. The midwife, who brings the knowledge of their ancestors, delivers her by presenting a doll (as a newborn) and then everyone joins the dance and feast that are proceeding.