The “Feast of the Almond” is a musical feast-ritual welcoming the upcoming spring. It has been celebrated for many decades on Hydra, beginning in the first decades of the twentieth century, initially among small groups and then as a collective celebration.
The “Almond Festival” takes place every year on Hydra in February and heralds the arrival of spring. During this time, the flowers are blooming, and the central theme of the feast is the blossoming almond tree.
The celebration involves a procession from the port of Hydra, with a woman dressed as a bridegroom and a man wearing a bridal veil and dress. Singers and musicians lead the procession of the “bride” and “groom” and dozens of participants, starting from the port of Hydra and ending inside the village under a flowering almond tree. There the group sings:
Ετίναξε την ανθισμένη αμυγδαλιά
με τα χεράκια της
και γέμισε από άνθη πλάτη κι αγκαλιά
και τα μαλλάκια της.
Αχ! Σαν την είδα χιονισμένη την τρελή
γλυκά της μίλησα
Της τίναξα τα άνθη από την κεφαλή
και την εφίλησα
She picked the flowering almond blossoms
with her hands
and filled with flowers her back and arms
and her hair.
Ah! It’s as if I saw snowy crazy
sweets, I said to her
I shook the flowers from her head
and kissed her
Then the procession all return together to the harbor and feast with music and songs until late at night.
During the celebration in February 2016, the following musicians played and sang: Thanasis Daskalakis (guitar), George Daskalakis (bouzouki), Dimitris Arvanitis (bouzouki), and Andreas Demetriou (song). Many others have sung and participated in the celebration.
This post is a translation of an article by Spilios Spilotis. All photos are his as well. For the original, please visit his Hydras Politeia blog.