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The friendly ghost of Harmena comes always with Carnaval.

Traditions, ghosts and Carnaval

Legends always remains a significant part of our traditional background. And even if we know that they have nothing to do with the reality, we keep them as a secret treasure. One of them is the “ghost of Harmena”  in Central Greece (in the region of Amfissa) which comes always in the “night of ghosts”, during Carnival.
It is said that the ghosts are the souls of people or animals that wander around in the area, but the ghost of  “Harmena” is maybe the best-known.

A love story, a tanner and a ghost.

And like most of the stories, this one also begins with a strong love affair!

It is said that years ago in Amfissa a young man, Konstantis, was living. He was handsome, tall, young but, above all, he was honest. He was working in the tannery of his uncle, in the neighbourhood of Harmena. He was struggling to earn his living, but he was happy. He was young, he loved a beautiful girl, Lenio,  and she loved him.
Lenio was a beautiful and kind-hearted girl and she helped her father with the vineyards and the olive trees they had. She was an only child and together with Kostantis she made dreams for their common future.

One morning Konstantis loaded his cart with brand new leathers and he left the city. He had to deliver them and to buy new tools for his job. For weeks he toured from city to city and from village to village and the orders for new leathers were increasing.
All his efforts paid off and after a while, he returned back to Amfissa with a ring for his beloved. He ran impatiently to Lenio’s home in order to ask her father to marry her. But the closer he was at her home, the most anxious he was. The house was locked and abandoned.
He learned from neighbours and his friend Yiannos the unexpected death of his beloved.

Lenio had gone to the water well of Harmena to get fresh water. Suddenly a wild storm broke out. A lightning bolt struck her and she fell there, next to the well. Lenio’s parents were immersed in deep sorrow. Unable to cope with the death of their only daughter, they sold everything and left the city.
Kostantis was unable to cope with the unfair death of his beloved. Next day they found his body next to the old castle of the city. Since then, he became a “stichio” (ghost) and his soul found a resort at the Source of Harmena. There he mourns for his lost youth and his lost love.

The fight of ghosts.

But the ghost of Harmena was a good spirit which guarded the well of Harmena and all his friends and loved ones. Most of them were tanners -as Kostantis was- because Kostantis had the feeling that tanners were his family and loved them all.
When his ghost felt loneliness, he left his hermitage and wandered from alley to alley, starting shrieking and groaning. Together with the screaming, according to the legend, you could hear also strange noises or drag of chains. He always followed the same route. He passed from Lenio’s home, from his family’s home and from his friends’ homes.
In the area of Amfissa, apart from the ghost of Harmena, there were also other ghosts. Each one was protecting a water source, a district… Sometimes the local ghosts fought with each other and these fights lasted days and nights. But always the ghost of Harmena won. This fight took place at the well of Harmena, under the old trees.
During the last weekend of Carnival in Amfissa, the legend of the “ghosts” is revived.  From the neighbourhood of Harmena, where all the old tanneries were, and from the stairs of St. Nicholas’ church, the “ghost” comes down followed by fairies, goblins, scarecrows and other bizarre creatures. It collides with the rest of the ghosts but the power of good always prevails, and the guardian of tanners is always at the winner.

If you happen to be at the area do not miss it./


                                          © Lato,
Het Griekse Taal– & CultuurCentrum van Amsterdam

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