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Epiphany In Matala

Posted by Dinny, 07 January 2006 · 1,863 views

OK, I've got the picture now! Here, we don't care much about Christmas, we won't bother to make any special arrangements for New Year's Eve - but on the 6th of January the machinery starts running on FULL! In Matala, bars that have been closed for two months reopen just for the weekend (whereafter they'll go back to sleep for a couple of months) and around noon the small village was roaring with adults and kids, filling the bars so that it was difficult to find an empty seat anywhere, souvlaki sold on the main street, tables put up with free offerings of Cretan cakes and salties, balloon sellers hoping that the kids would pressure their parents to spend 5 euro on some hot air in plastic (success: after the event all balloons were sold - I plead guilty as well, my granddaughter just loved the dolphin!).

Matala was not a pretty sight. The main street was all mud and holes, it's time for the annual "let's fix the cloak system" which seems to keep the workers busy (well, not VERY busy) for a couple of months or three, but nobody seemed to care. Around half past one everybody left the bars and went down at the far end of the main street which is just over the sea at that point. Ten-twelve youngster were swimming in the sea, later also a girl joined them, and they were FREEZING. The weather had been quite nice in the morning, warm sunshine, blue sky, around 15-16 degrees, but now it had started to rain and people were gathering under umbrellas with whomever had been wise (or pessimistic) enough to bring them. After a while a fine procession of priests arrived and some preaching and singing took place, sorry, I don't understand much of the words, but if you know Greek priests you will agree that they are never men of few words.

Towards what seemed to be the end of the preaching the youngsters stopped swimming around and climbed the rocks near the place where the priests were standing. The rain had stopped and the sun was appearing again to encourage them. And after a while a wooden cross was thrown into the sea as far out as possible, and the young men took off in a spurt, everyone hoping to be the first one reaching the cross. The winner got a big applause from all the people watching, kissed the cross and let the other swimmers kiss it too, then it was brought back to the priests. Oh, but that was not the end, the cross was thrown once more, and then another time, and then it seemed to be the end of the festivity. Soon all the people was moving like a big wave back through main street, people meeting friends obstructing the movement since they would stop and gather in the middle of everything to have a chat, but like water everybody found a way around them, filling up bars, emptying the souvlaki stands, buying balloons, and everywhere you heard greatings of Kali Xronia, Happy New Year.

By four in the afternoon Matala returned the ghost city it normally is during the winter months... assuring that everybody gets the deserved relax before tourist season starts in a couple of months.


Just letting you know that as long as you keep writing we keep reading and enjoying Crete via you. Only criticism is that I think you need to find a different term to freezing as I sit here on a sleeting icy day I think this is Freezing but I am sure Lars and others have even more extremes!! Guess it is all about relativity - I can remember complaining about being cold just before I left Crete in the Autumn - silly me I should have realised that wasn't really cold.

Keep up the good work, Yvonne biggrin.gif

June 2023

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