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Greek Valentines & Carnival …

The inhabitants of Amorgos do not wait for Valentine’s Day to express their love. They always  do it with Carnival, thanks to a very old tradition which is called the “Captain” (=Kapetanios).

Amorgos: A Valentine comes always in Carnival!

Every year, all the young people from 4 different villages gather in the chapel of St. Demetrius. There, the eldest of the inhabitants – in earlier days the priest- chooses one of them and name him “Captain”. His friends dress him and also decorate his horse. Then they accompany him, with violins and lutes, through the narrow streets of the island to the village of Selladi.
Everywhere there are treats, which contain fasting-mezedes, traditional made raki with herbs, spices and orange peel and local wine.

When the Captain’s procession reaches Selladi, where all single women wait dressed in their traditional costumes, the dance begins.
During this dance the Captain throws his handkerchief to the one who “has stolen his heart”,  setting her as his partner … theoretically until the end of the Carnival (the same and the next day).

The custom is said to have started since the Ottoman domination and was a way to reward the best warrior who came back to the island in order to find a woman and get married.
Today it is an opportunity to make a relationship official, and often ends up in marriage.


Het Griekse CultuurCentrum van Amsterdam
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