Winter Tourism: Life on Sifnos island after the summer crowds go home

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Winter Tourism: Life on Sifnos island after the summer crowds go homeOn Siphnos in winter, there is less of that divine Light but more human warmth even though few people remain, a welcome solitude for some, compared with summer and a close-knit social life

KASTRO, SIPHNOS – On some days – but not too many, the sky is overcast as the New Year arrives in the land of sea and sun, the glorious Greek islands, Constantine S. Sirigos notes in an article that was recently published on the National Herald.

On Siphnos in winter, there is less of that divine Light but more human warmth even though few people remain, a welcome solitude for some, compared with summer and a close-knit social life. Unexpectedly, winter for some islanders is also when they resume their communion with nature – Earth, sky and sea.

It is hard for outsiders to imagine what it is like there beyond the tourists, but life goes on, as it has for thousands of years in the Cyclades. The shift from cosmopolitan to traditional mode that happens after October brings the hard work of shutting down the tourist venues, a shift towards agriculture, and somber moments, too  – but Christmas has its charm and joys when kourabiedes, diples, and melomakarona – called finikia there – grace every table and fellowship fills the air.

Restaurateur Maria Lembesis told The National Herald, “Christmas is beautiful. The island is one big family. All the houses are open. Friends and family gather for coffee and discussion.”

She is referring to the famous βεγγέρα, people gathering in one another’s homes at night. On Siphnos, “vengerizane” is a verb.

Father Efstratios Syrigos, who knew a more intense life in the popular music world as a fine violinist and laouto player, described a peaceful life that is now rare across the country that out of pride and necessity throws open its doors to the whole world.

“Life in Siphnos in winter is all that you do not see in the summer, but it’s mainly a time for people to rest and recover after the pressure of the tourism season that affects them all,” he said.

“In winter, you see the real Siphnos, the festivals, the homes and relationships. You have to experience that in winter, like in the old days.”

The people of Siphnos, like the rest of Greece, thank God for the tourists – there are 365 churches on the island where they can do that – but the months without tourists bring relief, though with the pleasantries there are struggles.

The heaviest months, meteorologically and psychologically, are January and February – it’s colder and people circulate less, nevertheless, around October, as the temperature cools, society warms up. Father Syrigos said, “People become calmer, warmer.”

But one man’s warm close-knit society is another’s dearth of privacy. “Everyone knows everyone else’s business,” one islander said, “and you can’t choose who you have around you and you cannot flee whom you do not like – the definition of insularity.”

For some, especially young people, winter brings feelings of confinement, especially when transportation is reduced to one ship, three days per week.

“But January and February passes…and then comes the spring,” Fr. Syrigos said. Youth blossoms along with the Earth. Gone are the wind, chill, humidity, rain – and the rare snow storms.

Activity resumes with the softening of the weather. “The “Martaprillo” is beautiful, he said, “with green, yellow, and red proliferating” – green trees and shrubs, yellow daisies, daffodils, the native xinohorto, dazzling red poppies and bougainvillea of all colors – engendering joy and signaling the time to prepare for the tourists

Read full story at thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Kondephy

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