“August 15th festivities in two highland communities of Northern Greece: Tranos Choros (Grand Dance) in Vlasti and Syrrako festival”  were registered as an item on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The registering was approved by the Intergovernmental Committee of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (UNESCO, 2003) at its 17th annual meeting held in Rabat, Morocco from  November28 to December 3.

Following the announcement of the international organization’s decision, the Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni said: “Traditional celebrations, such as Panigiria, are ritualistic cultural expressions, elements of a bond between communities. In the highland communities of Vlasti and Syrrako, the dances are events that express the symbolic reestablishing of two mountain communities. Even today with a dwindling population, these dances play an equally catalytic role in the annual renewal of their ties. Both in Vlasti and in Syrrako, the August 15th festivities on the one hand symbolize a confirmation of the strong ties that link the community to its highland place of origin, and on the other a renewal of the imperishable relationships that hold people and families together. By actively participating in the Tranos Choros and the Syrrako festival the younger generations are introduced to the collective identity and cultural memory of their communities of origin. The relevant department of the Ministry of Culture and Sports has prepared a dossier of documentary material, which has been praised for its excellence, as it highlights the role of intangible cultural heritage in strengthening the social cohesion and identity of small highland communities facing the challenges of immigration and urbanization. It is particularly important that the inscription of the element on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity will promote the dialogue on the sustainability of mountain communities in a way that is not limited to the economy and the protection of nature, but includes social cohesion, pride in the region and the strengthening of collective memory. Congratulations are due to everyone”.

In the Tranos Choros, in Vlasti, Kozani, dancers of all ages join hands to form a large circle, singing and dancing to a slow and imposing rhythm, without the accompaniment of instruments. At the festival of Syrrako, Ioannina, the company of musicians and singers who know “the ethos and style” of the feast preserve dancing as one of the most important features of the festival. Historically, the celebration of the August 15th, both in Vlasti and in Syrrako, coincided with the period when the nomadic herders with their flocks were in their highland community of origin, after wintering in the lowland pastures.

“August 15th festivities in two highland communities of Northern Greece: Tranos Choros in Vlasti and Syrrako festival” is the ninth element of intangible cultural heritage registered by Greece on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO, 2003). They were preceded by the following : the Mediterranean Diet in 2013 (jointly with Italy, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Cyprus and Croatia), the know-how of cultivating mastic on the island of Chios (2014), Tinian Marble Craftsmanship (2015), the Momoeria custom in eight villages of Kozani (2016), the Rebetiko (2017), the Art of Dry Stone/Xerolithia (together with France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Cyprus and Slovenia in 2018 ), Byzantine Chant (jointly with Cyprus in 2019) as well as Transhumance in the Mediterranean and the Alps (jointly with Italy and Austria). In 2020, the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices for the Preservation of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was enriched with the first Greek registration with the programme ” Polyphonic Caravan, researching, safeguarding and promoting the Epirus polyphonic song”.