The Ghost of Charmaina - Carnival of Amfissa
A custom related to a very old local legend, regarding a ghost protecting a local fountain, Charmaina. The legend said that there were more ghosts protecting other places and they would fight amongst them many times. The locals would hear the screams and hide in their homes. A quite spectacular event which gets very crowded.
I have been to Galaxidi before, on Ash Monday, but never in Amfissa during the peculiar custom of the Ghost of Charmaina Carnival, on the last Saturday of the Carnival.
This custom is related to a very old local legend, a quite romantic one. The story says that there was a tanner who loved a beautiful girl and they were very happy. After one of his long trips to sell his goods and be able to buy the engagement rings, he returned only to find out that his loved one had died tragically after being hit by lightning. He then died of sadness and haunted the Charmaina fountain. He was known as the ghost of Charmaina from then on. Anytime a local tanner was dying he would come out and scream in the night. The legend said that there were more ghosts protecting other places and they would fight amongst them many times. The locals would hear the screams and hide in their homes. After many years the screaming ceased and the locals believe that the ghost finally found its rest.
I got myself in the town as early as I could so I would go around and understand the event's schedule. Amfissa is a beautiful town with many restored old buildings. You can find many nice traditional cafes and taverns around with delicious comfort food.
I found out that the parade would start at the local art workshop where many of the participants would go and paint their faces and prepare themselves instead of doing this at home. I headed to that place and indeed at around five in the afternoon, many people were there getting ready to take part in the event.
Soon, many of the little ones are getting ready and going out in the street and start having fun. The music in the streets had already started. Many of the participants are holding tin buckets and banged them with cut branches to make noise. Noise is a common method found in Greek folklore to send away evil spirits and goblins.
Meanwhile, the three ghosts are getting ready inside the art workshop. People dressed in goat's skin will be carrying them and performing during the event.
The night starts to fall and the music plays in the streets. Everything starts to fall into place, as the night makes everything look spookier, even the little fairies. People start to gather around soon before the parade will start.
The main parade will start from the central church and will follow the downwards flight of steps to the square of "Kehagias". Along the stair, the fairies have taken their place holding lit torches.
The parade escorts the large ghosts that approach the square. There is a stage set on the square and a show takes place with lights and scary sounds of chains and screams. The ghosts arrive on the stage and a big fight begins. The ghost of Charmaina is the winner as always. After the ghosts leave the stage a huge number of dressed people follow and come through the stage. A big crowd is cheering around the event. When everyone has passed through, the party goes on around the local bars and taverns.