Custom of the Camel and the Wedding of Maniο
The custom has its roots in the years of Ottoman rule. Based on the legend the custom reenacts a real event, regarding the abduction of a local girl called Manio by the local Turkish commissioner (Aga). The young men of the village led by her betrothed, in order to free her, came up with the trick of the Camel, similar to the Trojan Horse.
They made a rudimentary camel so that some of them could hide under it and others followed it disguised. They set up a feast outside the Turkish camp.
The Turks, seeing the joy of the young people, opened the camp gate and caroused with the Greeks until they all fell drunk in the morning. While everyone was asleep, her betrothed with his friend freed Manio and the next day they got married.
Since then and every year, the custom of the Camel is revived in remembrance of their reunion, accompanied by instruments (davuls and zurnas). The custom of the Camel takes place on the Epiphany Day and the next day, on St. John’s celebration day, the representation of Manio’s wedding takes place. Bride and best man are men dressed in women’s clothes.
Reminding the ingenuity and cunning required to defeat the opponent, especially in times when the people were under foreign domination. People also have the opportunity to celebrate life, have fun and taste traditional dishes along with plenty of wine and tsipouro.
The custom begins on January 5, the eve of Epiphany. The participants of that day, namely the dancers, the local musicians with davuls and zurnas and whoever wishes from the villagers, go to pick up the bells. The bells are usually in the house of a breeder who offers them for the custom. Then they go around the village dancing with the bells.
The next day, the Epiphany Day, the dancers, the local musicians, the “Camel”, the groom and the bride, a group of fustanella (a traditional pleated skirt-like garment) wearers, called “Tzamalarides”, as well as football and basketball clubs, participate in the reenactment. The feast takes place in the village square, where with the participation of all the people, the reunion of the groom and the bride is celebrated. During the feast grilled local sausages, wine and other local delicacies are offered in the square. After the feast is over, those who have participated in the reenactment of the custom (local musicians, camel, groom, bride, dancer, Tzamalarides and whoever else wants to accompany) make a procession in the village.
The next day continues with having fun in the square (without the camel) and another procession in the village.
Experiential and interactive activities
Whoever wants can join the procession.
There are no technological, organizational, social or artistic innovations.
Main features and services that attract public
The reenactment of the custom accompanied by davuls and zurnas but also the promotion of local dishes (such as local sausages).
Key partners and supporters
Municipality of Polygyros, Municipal Community of Galatista, local associations and sponsorship of citizens in order to support the custom.
Participants, local community and customer segment
Citizens-sponsors of the community, associations especially for the reenactment of the custom, locals and visitors.
Communication and dissemination channels
Mainly through local channels and social media (facebook). Also, people can contact the Municipality and the sponsors.
Specific elements and features
Managerial and organizational specifics
There is not any organization and management model.
The custom takes place in the square of the village. There are parking places in the vicinity. Also the square can be approached on foot.
Liaison with other activities and events of the Black Sea Basin region
There are no associations and connections with other countries for this event.
The custom takes place in Galatista, a semi-mountainous historic traditional village located in the Municipal Unit of Anthemounta of the Municipality of Polygyros, in the Regional Unit of Chalkidiki. Specifically, the custom takes place in the village’s square (Episminagou I. Hatzoudi square) and then a procession takes place in the village accompanied by the camel, the bride, the groom and the orchestra.
Galatista is dated back to the 9th c. and remains nowadays a picturesque village with an organic tissu, narrow alleys, traditional houses, fountains and great churches dating from the first half of the 19th century, in some of which ancient spolia have been incorporated. In the middle of the settlement stands the Byzantine Tower of Galatista, dating from the 14th century, that is said to have given its name to the village, while two nearby stone watermills date back to the same period of construction of the tower.
Every year on the 5th, 6th and 7th of January. On January 5 the procession of the bells and the decoration of the “Camel” take place, on January 6, the revival of the custom of “Camel” and on January 7, the “Wedding of Manio”.
Organizer and contact information
Municipality of Polygyros - Municipal Community of Galatista,