The Boules of Naoussa in northern Greece: a ritual of the Carnival, its historic evolution in the 20th century and its role in the modern social and cultural life of the city

Lampros Efthymiou

Apstrakt: The use of the mask is common in the theatre (tragedies, satyr plays and comedies) in ancient Greece and is traced back to the worship of God Dionysus. Throughout the following centuries, multiple sources and evidence also suggest that masks and special disguise maintained their importance during ceremonies and rituals all over the Greek territory. Several such rituals occur upon the Apokries (Carnival), a period of time just before the Lent, the forty-day fast before Easter Sunday. The Lent is most significant for the Eastern Orthodox Church. One such custom, the Boules, takes place every year in Naoussa, north-western Greece, during the two weekends between the beginning of the Pre-Lent season and Pure Monday. The participants are exclusively young men dressed in traditional costumes and masks called “The Face”. Most of them wear traditional men’s costumes and impersonate the “Janissaries”, while one man wears a woman’s costume and impersonates the “Boula”. The “Janissaries and Boules” wander around the streets of the city all day long dancing to the sounds of live music. All the inhabitants of the city attend the custom. However, during the past few years, thousands of visitors also flock to Naoussa to watch the celebrations. This increase in its popularity has paved the way for the evolution of Boules. In this paper an attempt is made to examine the influence of new circumstances, as well as the role that this custom plays in the modern social and cultural life of the city and the wider region.

Ključne reči: Boules, Janissaries, Naousa, Prosopos, Carnival, Western Macedonia

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Етнолошко-антрополошке свеске, y. 2018, no. 18 (29), pp. 23-39