Upper Darby, PA – Greek Festival fans who attended St. Demetrios festival, were treated to a special performance by the “Akritai” Dance troupe a few weeks ago. While most dance troupes featured regional folk dances from throughout Greece, the Akritai introduced something new, that from the past. They took the attendee on a trip back to the ancient world, to the land of Pontos, and blended theatre and dance. Momogeri is an old genuine form of Greek traditional folk theater, the most ancient ritual revived today in Greece.
The Greeks of Pontos preserved the custom of Momogeri for centuries. After the Asia Minor catastrophe of 1922 and the exchange of populations, they brought with them the ancient custom to Greece, in addition to their language, dancing, folk music, and other customs.
The name Momogeri derives from the composition of the words “momos” and “geros.” Momos was the God of Laughter and Satyr in ancient times. He was the personification of censure and condemnation.
The word “geros” refers to the old connoisseurs of mystical ceremonies, the “priests” of the time.
There are many people involved in this custom and they are divided in two groups, theater and dance. The theater element involves people dressed as: two brides, an old man with his wife, a gypsy with a bear, a Doctor, a Policeman, and the Devil. The dance element consists of a Leader and twelve dancers.
The actors consciously seek to entertain, bring happiness and of course to be treated by the hosts of the houses they visit.
This custom is a way to welcome the New Year, but most of all it is a way to entertain. It is a Greek traditional street theater of the people who aim to spread cheer, joy and laughter.