Ragkoutsaria

One of the most unique traditional customs that has inscribed within the heart of the Kastorian people is Ragkoutsaria. Namely, a series of celebrations that begin during Epiphany (the blessing of the waters and the throw of the Holy Cross) and go on for 3 days (from the 6th to the 8th of January), being an amalgamation of an ancient local ritual and a carnival affair.

According to the custom, everyone in the town, including visitors, men, women and children, have to wear a mask or at least paint their faces, get dressed in costumes, and go around in groups.

The heart of the celebrations beats in Mitropoleos street and Omonoia’s square, each group consists of 5 to 12 people and has its own band of bronze musical instruments. Alltogether set off to the streets, drinking booze and dancing madly.

On the next day (on the eve of Agios Ioanni’s feast), the groups are going from house to house asking for gifts in exchange to their contribution exorcising the evil spirits from the city. At the same time, they force the household to pursue the banquet.

On the 3rd and last day of this ritual, the climax is coming with a march of a massive parade that starts from the regional town hall, goes through Omonoia square and finishes at Doltso. Eventually, the best dressed men are awarded for their symbolic and scary masquerades.

The custom of ragoutsaria, which has been associated with the Greek Dionysian rites, can be what initially inspires thousands of travels from Greece and abroad to visit the area. Lastly, the name “ragkoutsaria” derives from the Latin “rogatores” (meaning beggar men).