Helidonismata In many villages in Serres, every year revives at 1 March the ancient Greek custom “helidonismata” (from the word “helidoni” in modern, or “helidon” in ancient Greek which means swallow).The children are celebrating the coming of spring which is symbolized by the swallows. They make a swallow's simulacrum and going around the village's houses singing the helidona, a kind of carol. They also wear on their hands a band of red and white thread, the “marti”.
This is a magic band. It can prevent the owner from sun burning! The children wear this band on the 1rs of March until the 1rst of April. Then, they cut the threads, and hang them on a tree branch or put it under a stone. But, if they see a swallow or a stork before the 1rst of April, then, they can cut the “marti” and hang it on trees or put them under stones. Thus, they help those birds to build their nests, because it is believed that swallows and storks use treads to make their nests stronger!
Dimitristi`s students sing hellidona holding their swallow The housewifes give them candies, eggs or money sometimes. This custom is maintained not only in Serres but in various regions of Macedonia and the rest of Greece, like Epiros, Thrace, Thessalia and Dodekannesa and is descended from the ancient Greek custom “helidon”. Ancient authors like Athinaios and Plinios gave us many informations about this custom and saved the song.
The swallow Here we quote first the modern and then the ancient song of helidonismata: Modern helidona song of Serres region Χελιδόνα έρχεται από τη Μαύρη θάλασσα θάλασσα κι αν πέρασε, έκατσε κι ελάλησε. Έµαθε τα γράµµατα, γράµµατα σπουδάµατα γράµµατα Ελληνικά που µαθαίνουν τα παιδιά τα παιδιά από το δάσκαλο. «∆άσκαλος µας έστειλε να µας δώστε πέντε αυγά. Κι αν δεν δίντε πέντε αυγά παίρνουµε την κλωσσαριά. Να γεννά και να κλωσά και να σέρνει τα πουλιά.» The swallow is coming from Black Sea when it came across the sea it sat and sang she learned to write with Greek letters such as children learn by the teacher. “The teacher sent us to give us five eggs and if you don't give five eggs we will take the brood hen to bear and brood the eggs and drag the birds after her”. Ancient helidona song, saved by Athinaios: Ήλθ’, ήλθε η χελιδών, καλάς ώρας άγουσα και καλούς ενιαυτούς, επί γαστέρα λευκά, επί νώτα µέλαινα…. The swallow came, bringing good times and good years white in abdomen black in back.
Students of Dimitritsi school sing helidona for the priest. In the yellow circle you may see a basket with flowers where the children put all the money or candies. Students of Dimitritsi school sing helidona for the oldest man in Dimitritsi, Barba-Pachalis, who still makes by his own hands wooden swallows for the childrenâ€Ś.