February is coming and more than 1.500 participants have started preparing their traditional costumes for the special day, when Thessaloniki is waking up by the sweet noise of thousands of bells. But wait a second, what is the “Road of bells”?
“Road of bells” is a traditional parade, which takes place at the port of Thessaloniki every February. The event, organized for more than 7 years, hosts about 25 groups of people, coming from different villages and cities around Macedonia and even other countries such as Serbia and Bulgaria. The parade begins at the White Tower of Thessaloniki and ends up at Aristotelous Square, where every group presents its story and depicts some of their morals. Every year, children and adults, teenagers and elders participate to this unusual celebration and the interest of people about the event is huge.
The amazing fact, which catches the eye and makes this event especially popular, is the unique costumes. Every costume – most of them are handmade – is decorated with bigger or smaller bells, furs, colorful patches and heavy hats. The bells, made from copper, symbolize the awakening and the fruition of earth. People, who support this tradition, have put a bell outside of their front doors, in order to show respect to their ancestors.
The myth about bells comes from Skyros, a Greek island next to Evvoia. The myth says that there was a shepherd, who had put a bell to the neck of every sheep of his flock in order to protect it. One day, when the weather was extremely cold, the whole flock died because of the snow. So the shepherd, wearing all the bells of his dead sheep, was running on the streets of the village, hitting them furiously. Trying to stand by him, according to the myth, the people of the island wore bells around their waist in order to be protected by the “bad” and welcome the euphoria of earth.
Text: Korina Flevari