Accepted Paper:

The Religious Rituals of the Anastenarides in Greece  


Evy Johanne Håland (Norwegian Council of Arts)

Paper short abstract:

The paper is based on fieldwork which the author has carried out in two villages populated by descendants of refugees arriving in Greece in the beginning of last century. The paper explores how the religious spaces surrounding their rituals are copies of the original cultic space in Kōsti, Thrace.

Paper long abstract:

The Anastenaria is celebrated by the Anastenarides. They descend from refugees who fled to Greece from the village of Kōsti in eastern Trace, nowadays Bulgaria, after the Balkan Wars, and had settled in several villages in Greek Macedonia by 1924. The Anastenaria is dedicated to the deceased saints, Kōnstantinos and his mother, Elenē, who are depicted on holy icons that the Anastenarides brought with them from Kōsti. The main ritual during the Anastenaria is the ecstatic dance over red-hot coals by the Anastenarides who are possessed by their saint. The festival presents a ritual, which in many ways is in opposition to the official Orthodox religion, and it has been persecuted by the Church. Therefore, it was performed in secret for many years last century. Officially, the uneasy situation between the Church and the Anastenarides has come to an end. But, still the Church states that the festival presents a combination of paganism and Christianity, and does not subscribe to the holistic view of the Anastenarides. The paper is based on fieldwork which I have carried out in two of the villages populated by Anastenarides and other ("indigenous") Greeks during annual festivals. The paper explores how the religious spaces surrounding the rituals carried out by the Anastenarides in the villages are copies of the original cultic space in Kōsti. Furthermore, their cultic apparatuses belong to "former days", thus constituting an ancestor-cult located to their place of origin, since the "Thracians"/"Kōstilidians", celebrates their "Kōstilidian" community and identity through their religious rituals.

Panel W016
Space, place and religious rituals in the context of migration (EN, FR)