In the Sofades of Karditsa, in the center of Thessaly, an ancient custom is
preserved which is revived on New Year’s morning. It is called “The Shepherd’s
The custom is related to animal husbandry and the way of life of animal breeders
from ancient times to the present day. It was prepared and taken by the owners of the
herds to their herd on the first day of the year to make the time go well and also to
honor the shepherds who worked for them.
In the afternoon of the previous day, the wife of the cheliga (chief shepherd or
sheep farmer) started making the roll. He sifted the flour, leavened it, put it in the taxi
and decorated it with various ornaments. In the middle he made the fold with the
shepherd milking the ewes, the dog and the animals of the herd. Then he would roast
her, while also preparing the food that her husband would carry to the corral the next
As it began to faint, the woman would wake up and prepare the food, the wine and
the roll in the tagari (handwoven bag). Then her husband, the cheligas, after saddling
the horse or saddled the donkey and after hanging the tagari, started for the corral.
In the heat all the mountain roads were filled with horsemen carrying food to their
stables. Many times it snowed at this time and as the clothes of the travelers were
white from the snow, they reminded Santa Claus. Many of them sang loudly and these
songs sounded like angelic hymns in the silence of the usually snowy morning.
At the same time that the tseligades were already on the way to the fold, the
shepherd in it would wake up and light the fire in the hut to warm the tseligades who
came cold in the cold night. He was arranging the space and creating a rough table.
You had enough of the tzeligas together with other shepherds, then they exchanged
wishes for the new year and drank the raki to keep warm.
Then they would leave the hut and go to the corral where the cheligas would catch
the ram and after making the sign of the cross he would break the roll into four pieces.
Then he fed a few morsels to the ram, gave to some sheep and, coming out of the fold,
gave to the shepherd dogs.
Then they would return to the hut, sit cross-legged around the fire and open the
food. But first, they gave the shepherd the rest of the bun and he was the first to start
eating after everyone made the cross and wished each other a good year full of health.
When they ate, there was singing and dancing.
This feasting and dancing stopped before noon. Then they would clear the table
and leave the roll and the rest of the food to the shepherd. Before the shepherd left,
the shepherd would lead the flock out to graze, so that his master could see and show
With this ancient custom, each cheliga showed his love for the herd of animals as
well as for the trump cards he had in his work. It was believed that with the wishes he
would exchange with the shepherd and with the ritual of the intricately decorated bun
and its distribution to the animals, the blessing and Divine Grace of the god would be
transferred to the flock on the first day of the new year. They believed that the
creative forces of life, Goddess Harris, would be beneficial to their flock for good
health and growth. Also, evil spirits and dark forces would be removed from the fold
for the entire new year

National community center “Izgrev-1930”  Bulgaria

Manisa Valiligi  Turkey

MAKGED  Turkey