In the context of this Delfinia Blog post a panegyri is a festive gathering in the name of a particular saint. Most people in Greece are named after a saint, the name of which in turn gets past down from grandparent to grandchild and so forth. A name-day is as important, if not more, than a birthday. And it is so that traditions are successfully maintained.
Yesterday the 21st of May the church of St Helen in Messonghi opened up the first panegyri for the season. They are held outdoors in the church grounds. Panegyria go hand in hand with summer and so good weather and lots of space are required, the latter to fit enough tables for the entire village and beyond. A good dance floor is a must and of course there is the live band to accommodate too.
A panegyri is an opportunity to pay tribute to one’s religious beliefs but also a chance to do so with others. It is a place to dance, to drink and make merry and of course to devour a few kilos of lamb on the spit and some good village wine too. Traditionally it is also a place to meet a prospective bride or groom!
Not knowing the steps is really not a good enough excuse not to dance. There is always someone who is more than pleased to show you the moves and foreign enthusiasm in Greece is most often well received.
Keep an eye out for large street banners or posters on electricity poles for the next date and venue. Some are smaller and some are really big and famous but a panegyri is a panegyri and definitely offer visitors a taste of Greece.
So when you are next on Corfu Island make sure you mingle with the locals at your closest panegyri because you never know who you might meet!