In ancient times, people used to seek some comfort in the heart of Winter, by celebrating Dionysus, the god of the vine, wine and revelry. That's how “the wintertime Dionysia” first started. Nowadays this ancient custom survives in many places around Greece. One of its most spectacular manifestations is the “Argoutsaria”, in the village of Kleisoura, near the city of Kastoria, taking place on New Year’s Day. The word “Argoutsaria” derives from ancient “rogatores”, i.e., beggars! Ancient masked celebrators turned themselves into beggars in Christian times, to avoid persecution by the Christian Church and, later, by the Ottoman State, incorporating along the way traditions deriving from Greek resistance against the Ottomans. The custom was transmitted over generations and so it came down to the present as a living testimony of ancient traditions and rituals.

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