Prize-giving ceremony for the best New Year’s carols:
An annual event organized by the Municipality of Sifnos and held during the first two weeks of February, to present awards for the best Sifnian ‘kalanta’ (carols). The Greek custom of ‘kalanta’ (carol singing) in Sifnos originates in Constantinople, and has two peculiarities: on the one hand, the ‘kalanta’ is sung to Byzantine rhythms on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, not at Christmas or Epiphany, and on the other, in Sifnos every year new carols are written for children’s choirs and the choirs of church committees and other local associations. The ‘kalanta’, which are judged by a five-member committee, have a great variety of themes, referencing current events at local, national or international level, and are very interesting linguistically speaking, since they serve to perpetuate the particular idioms of the Sifnian dialect.
On the last Sunday of Carnival (usually the end of February), the Cultural Association of Sifnos, with the support of the Municipality of Sifnos, holds the ‘Sifnaiiko Carnival’, in the main square of either Artemonas or Apollonia (in alternating years). The originality of the Sifnos carnival celebrations can be seen in the themes brought to life by individuals or groups in the public parade, which commonly focus either on local customs or current events, and usually take the form of theatrical performances. The best themes are awarded prizes, decided by a jury.
On Sunday afternoons and holidays, local clubs organise tournaments among the villages of a game similar to ninepins, played with skittles called ‘tsounia”. The game is played by couples (men and women), and at one time it was an opportunity for young people to get together and an important courting ritual, mostly conducted through the process of selecting a teammate. In the same place, makeshift swings were also set up, the ‘kounistries’, and the tradition was for young men to push the girls back and forth in the swings.
On the evening of Easter Sunday, the Cultural Association of Sifnos observes the custom of the burning of Judas in the main squares of either Artemonas or Apollonia (in alternating years), after procession of the handmade effigy around the main streets. Afterwards, there is an Easter buffet, and a presentation of traditional local dances by members of the Association’s dance groups, accompanied by the Sifnos ‘takimi’ music (violin and lute).
Lighting up of the communications network of ‘fryktories’ (ancient beacon towers) and the acropolis citadels across Sifnos.
The Municipality of Sifnos in cooperation with the Cultural Association of Sifnos, has in recent years revived the communications network of ancient ‘fryktories’ (beacon towers) and acropolis citadels on the island (used in the 6th-3rd centuries BC), lighting them up once a year on the eve of Pentecost. With the participation of dozens of volunteers, communications between the vantage points is achieved through smoke and mirrors. The towers, built at strategic points across the island, formed a communications network for the sending of messages using smoke or fire. Thus far, ongoing archaeological research has documented 77 ancient towers or beacons, unique both in the nature of their construction, as well as their large number by comparison with the other islands of the Aegean. Relative to the size of the island, which is only 74 square kilometers, the ratio is impressive (more than one tower per square kilometer). The participation of growing numbers of volunteers across the island each year is indicative of the growing interest in a project that highlights the wealth of archaeological remains on the island.
Demonstrations of traditional dancing from the dance groups of the Cultural Association of Sifnos.
On the day of the Holiday of Agios Pnevmatos (Pentecost), the dance groups of the Cultural Association of Sifnos give a performance. Usually more than 100 people participate, from children in the first grade of elementary school to adult groups, presenting traditional dances from all over Greece.
Concert by the Sifnos Music Workshop ‘Fragkiski Psacharopoulos - Karori’
Towards the end of the school year, each spring, a concert is given by the students of the Sifnos Music Workshop ‘Fragkiski Psacharopoulos - Karori’.
Each summer two major art exhibitions are held, showing works of art from the collections of the National Gallery - Alexandros Soutsos Museum and the archives of the Benaki Museum. The first of these includes paintings and sculpture, figurative or abstract art, by famous Greek painters and sculptors, while the other shows exhibits from the photographic archives, from the engraving collections or other items from the museum’s collection with aesthetic, ethnological or historical interest. The exhibition is organized by the Municipality of Sifnos and is supported by the Cultural Association of Sifnos.
Event held by the Church Committee of Panagia Kohi.
Every August on the feast day of the Assumption of Our Lady (15th August), the Committee of the Panagia Kohi Church organises an event in the courtyard of the church in Artemonas with traditional music, dancing and ‘kerasmata’ (free canape-type finger food).
’Grypareia’ Literary Saturday Night.
The ‘Grypareia’ Literary Saturday Night takes place on a Saturday night each August, in honor of the Sifnos poet, Ioannis Gryparis. The event is organized by the editor of the newspaper ‘Sifnos’ and held in the courtyard of the newspaper’s offices (on the footpath leading from Apollonia to Pano Petali). Evening includes readings and recitations from literary works and poems by distinguished people from the literary world, with traditional Sifnos ‘kerasmata’ (sofa-type finger food) catered for by the hosts.
Festival of Cycladic Gastronomy ‘Nikolaos Tselementes’.
Every year in September, the Cultural Association of Sifnos, the Municipality, and the Regional Authority of the Southern Aegean, organise a weekend Festival of Cycladic Gastronomy in honour of Nikolaos Tselementes, the Greek chef and cookery book writer. Guests from all over the Cyclades islands gather to cook local dishes and ‘set the tables’ with local delicacies for the many visitors to sample. The festival includes many side exhibitions and events with music and dancing.
The Christmas Village
Kato Petali Square in Apollonia is transformed each Christmas by the Municipality and Cultural Association of Sifnos into a Christmas village, to the delight of young and old. The village is open all through the holidays, and there are Christmas carols, a variety of events and children's activities.