Greece Looks to Include Land Blessing Custom on UNESCO Cultural Heritage List
The Greek Culture Ministry recently submitted a file to UNESCO to include the Panagia Mesosporitissa (Virgin of the mid-sowing season) Feast, a traditional Greek custom of blessing the bounty of the land, on its list of intangible cultural heritage.
The list, established in 2008 when the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took effect, aims to better protect global important intangible cultural heritages and raise awareness regarding their significance.
The Panagia Mesosporitissa Feast custom takes place annually at the archaeological site of Elefsina, Attica, combining elements of performing arts, social practices concerning nature and the universe, rituals, religion and traditional craftsmanship.
More specifically, on the Eve of the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary at the Temple (celebrated on November 21 in Greek Orthodox Church), Evensong is held in the chapel of Panagitsa on the hilltop within the archaeological site of Elefsina.
This ritual takes place at the exact location where the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries were held and following the service, churchgoers distribute semi-sweet bread and taste the “polyspori” (multi-seeds), the offering to Virgin Mary.
The Panagia Mesosporitissa Feast custom’s file was submitted to UNESCO in March and followed the close collaboration between the Greek Culture Ministry, the Elefsina Municipality, the Eleusis 2023 European Capital of Culture and the “To Adrachti” (the spindle) Folklore Society.
“Safeguarding and internationally promoting Greece’s intangible cultural heritage has been one of the culture ministry’s top priorities since 2019,” said Culture Minister Lina Mendoni.
She added that the intangible cultural heritage bears and expresses the ways the people and local communities evolved through time, becoming an invaluable reference point for future generations connected to history, memory, and tradition.
Greece’s file also includes a request to expand the countries’ list participating in the art of drystone walling network which has been inscribed in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list since 2018, following a Greece-Cyprus initiative.
The list of additional countries include Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg.
According to UNESCO, the art of dry stone walling concerns the knowhow related to making stone constructions by stacking stones upon each other, without using any other materials except sometimes dry soil.
Dry stone structures are spread across most rural areas – mainly in steep terrains – both inside and outside inhabited spaces.