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Το πανυγήρι (fair) is an event strongly associated with the Greek culture. Fairs are organized in honor of a Saint and take place during the evening at the central square of the village or at the churchyard. Sometimes, they last up to three days.
In a fair, one can buy cheap items for the house and the kitchen, clothes, toys, folk art items and all kinds of small electronic devices and gadgets. Sometimes, animals, such as horses or dunkies, are also traded. In addition, there is always food, cooked by the members of the local community, loads of house wine and live music. People dance folk dances and have fun until late. Therefore πανηγύρι is not only an event that is organized for religious reasons but also an institution that reinforces the local economy. Unfortunately, nowadays most fairs have lost their traditional character: the objects sold are usually produced in Asian countries, and in some cases the quality of the music is very law.
In the past, the fair was a big event the preparations used to last several months. The musicians played traditional music with hand-made instruments and were distinguished for their outstanding singing skills. It was also a unique opportunity for young men to attract women by showing off their dancing skills, since the strict moral code did not allow young people to meet and to interact.
Many fairs are organized in August throughout Greece, even in the islands with massive tourism. If you are in a small place, it is worth visiting a fair because it is something you cannot experience in another country. Even the festivals organized by the Greeks expatriates in the United States or Canada have little to do with the fairs in Greece. If you are lucky, you can see a real fair, but they take place in small and not touristic places and are not advertised in tourist guides.
The most important religious holidays, is the Assumption of Mary (η Κοίμισης της Θεοτόκου) on August 15th. It is celebrated all over Greece, especially in the islands, and there are fairs organized. The most “famous” fairs, take place in Ikaria.
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