Corfu's strange New Year customs

Corfu Town Kerkyra

In northern Corfu, on New Year's Eve, cologne is smelt all over - a Venetian custom.

Young and old take to the streets and spray cologne on people, friends and strangers, known and unknown. They give everyone a wish: "Good cut", that is to say goodbye to the good old year and to joyfully welcome the new.

In the mountain villages of the island, on New Year's Day, the elders wake up at dawn so they can be the first to welcome the new year.

They go out to the windows or their yards, gaze at the mountains (especially the Pantokrator, the highest mountain of Corfu) and passionately say: "Good morning mountains and happy new year."

The custom of "Strina" is also revived on New Year's Day. This is a large sum of money, which children receive from their relatives as "good luck" for the new year.

"Strina" was a currency used during the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Era.

It comes from the Latin strena which means a happy omen. It is also a New Year's gift, or "epinomis" as the ancient Greeks called it, or "bunamas" as they say today, coming from the Italian bueno-mano, meaning good hand.

At midnight, all the ships that are moored in the ports of the island are illuminated and greet in their own way the new year, leaving a joyful roar that can be heard as far as Igoumenitsa on the shores of Epirus.

Anyway, Corfu is special throughout this festive season.

From one end of the island to the other, the local choirs and philharmonic orchestras put on their traditional costumes and light up every part of Corfu.

The atmosphere is magical and reminiscent of times with forgotten customs - but they continue to this today in Corfu.

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