Countries, Europe, Music

Zorba the Greek (or Cretan)

And they’ll be kicking their legs up on Mount Olympus to greet the composer of Zorba the Greek (or Cretan) and doing a Syrtaki.

Mikis Theodarakis has joined the Gods after taking leave of this Earth at the grand old age of 96.

He leaves a lasting legacy and, of course, an enduring piece of Greek culture which has been played out to millions of tourists since the film was shown 57 years ago.

Magic wand: Mikis.

The first time I witnessed the Syrtaki was in romantic circumstances on honeymoon in Corfu.

And despite being an Ancient Greek scholar (no it wasn’t a State establishment!) I didn’t know its history.

Now I could dance around the subject and try and dupe you into believing I actually knew what I was talking about.

Or I could just point you in the direction of this Aussie website, Calopedos music.

Greek diaspora

Take a bow: Zorba the Greek

Now that Australia should be a reference point for all things Hellenic may be a surprise to some but the land Down Under became a magnet to Greeks.

And Melbourne is in fact the second most populous city in the world.

I have first-hand experience of the links from visiting the island of Kythera in Attica.

And the Aussie couple retracing their ancestors’ steps.

And I learned that half the island had headed to Australia.

Anyway back to Calopedos for the skinny on Syrtaki and Crete and Hellas.

And I quote..

Toga party: And now for the dance

The Zorba, is traditionally called the Syrtaki, and is danced to a style of song called the Hasapiko, or a faster version known as Hasaposerviko.

In Byzantine, and Ottoman-ruled Greece, the Hasapis was the butcher.

And if one was a member of the Butchers Guild, the dance would be performed to the tune of the Tamburas (the modern bouzouki’s grandfather).

The dance was originally performed by men.

They held onto each other with aprons, napkins, and one leader of the dance holding the Butcher’s knife.

The dance during became a war dance amongst partisans fighting Turkish oppression.

But eventually when Greece settled into Ottoman occupation the dance became somewhat of a cultural novelty across the empire.

Deal us in 

The Acropolis, Greece

Now, I’ve been perfecting my moves in the last year during lockdown.

While there has ben plenty of plate smashing from the Scary One.

I join in but only to cut down on the amount of dishes needing washing and putting away.

But I am ready to get back out to the wonderfully chaotic and enchanting Greece and its wonderful people.

And ready to enjoy its islands, each of which has a proud identity of its own.

With TUI offering holidays from £255pps. 

Live the music: And everyone can get involved

And a bit of advice here… they’re Cretans, and not Cretins.

Cretins, as an insult, has an involved history, and again I’m letting somebody else do the heavy lifting, my fellow blogger Masculine Christianity. 

While I sit back and give a passing reference to Mozart and Salzburg, no less, who brings it to our prominence. 

Do yourself a favour, rent out the film, leave yourself room for a dance.

And toast Mikos with an Ouzo and Zorba the Greek (or Cretan).



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