Traveler's Guide

East Macedonia & Thrace

The Custom of Pechlivanides

The custom of “Pechlivanides” is held in the district of Olvios. On the day of Agios Georgios, by noon, a group of traditional instruments with “tabor” and “zurna”, roam the neighborhoods of the village, and invite the residents to attend wrestling matches. Young wrestlers from different parts of northern Greece, also known as "Pechlivanides" (meaning wrestler in Turkish), are collected in a specially designed space after divided into couples and they struggle covered with oil. Their dressing consists of leather pants to the knees and it’s tied tightly at the waist, so that it cannot be taken off by the enemy. The "Pechlivanis" loses when he falls and touches his back on the ground but also when ... the opponent manages to take off the pants! The prize for the winner is money ("baxisi"), gathered in a towel and it’s to roamed in public by the couple of wrestlers. It is assumed that the custom began in honor of Agios Georgios and it represents the fight with the beast. The custom was brought by the refugees of the village Olvios from Fanari of Istanbul, where the feast of Agios Georgios was a public holiday both for Christians and for Muslims.
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