Last week I promised you to tell you more about the way our generations work, play, cry, dance, eat and party together as if time or age doesn’t exist. More particularly I will tell you how our babies, children and adolescents participate in our fiestas or ‘panigiria’.
For those that are new to Ikaria: every village organizes at least one panigiri a year. The financial income of the panigiri is for the village, so it’s a rule that everybody helps volunteering, including children.
In daily life, children and adolescents in Ikaria are more or less regarded as “equal” to adults. They help and participate in all kinds of occasions: marriage, baptism, funerals, fiestas but also in gardening, shopping, and doing all kinds of small jobs for their family.
A very strong example is their participation at the local fiestas or ‘panigiria’. When a fiesta is about to happen in the village, the children and adolescents are asked to help out not only in the preparation, but also during the evening itself. They will clean tables, cut tomatoes for the salads, serve bread, feta cheese, meat and wine, collect empty bottles, sell lottery tickets, and at the end of the evening they will take up their part in the dance. They will play and have fun until … yes, early morning! The adolescents might even have the occasional glass of wine with their grandfather or their friends.
Even our babies (!) are taken to the fiestas. Reason is that most of the fiestas start early afternoon so that there’s still plenty of time to enjoy the sun (and the beautiful sunset), to have a walk with the stroller or to sit together with other parents-with-babies. As soon as it gets dark,the babies will have their nap in their stroller while their parents take turns in the dances.
You might frown your eyebrows and wonder whether sitting up late and drinking wine is a healthy way of educating children? Well, the effect of this early “fiesta education” is that our 18-year-olds are rarely drunk at their graduation day and none of them is dreaming of an “animal party” for their graduation day! They have learned how to party in a more or less civilized way …
To end with, I would like to share two things with you:
- Did you know that most children carry the same name as their grandparents, aunts or uncles? In a big family gathering most children will listen to the same names!
- Did you know that it is normal in Ikaria to see children and adolescents playing basket until eleven at night? They gather in the square of the village or the school playground every afternoon after school or after homework. They will play team games outside, hang around the football field or basketball field making friendships that in many cases last forever...
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