News

Photo: Pinelopi Gerasimou

Celebration of Panagia Mesosporitissa in Elefsina

18.11.2021

The Cultural Association of Elefsina “To Adrachti” revives the centuries-old custom of “Polysporia” in the post-Byzantine chapel of Panagitsa (Virgin Mary), in the Archeological Site of Elefsina, on Saturday, November 20, at 16:00

The custom of Panagia Mesosporitissa (Virgin of the mid-sowing season) is named after the specific period of the year, halfway through the sowing season, revealing how the locals attributed to the Virgin Mary the role of the goddess Demeter, linking the city’s two historical periods. On the Eve of the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, the women of Elefsina revive the custom of Panagia Mesosporitissa at the post-Byzantine chapel of the Virgin Mary that adorns the hilltop of the Archaeological Site of Elefsina. The custom goes back centuries ago and continues to this day. Each year, on the eve of the celebration, women take ears of wheat and bread to the church, to get a blessing. Following the service, the churchgoers distribute the semi-sweet bread and taste the polyspori (multi-seed), the offering of panspermia to the Virgin.

So, every year, outside the main entrance of the archaeological site, member of the Association “To Adrachti,” who in recent years have undertaken the revival of the custom, have prepared the polyspori, offering it to those who descent the hill. The polyspori is a mixture of grains and legumes, and is nowadays prepared at the Museum of Adrachti. In Elefsina, it was made until just before the dawn of the 20th century, when the local society was still mostly rural. The custom of the polyspori faded and was abandoned, only to be revived a few years ago, in 2014, as an aspect of the region’s modern cultural heritage.

The Cultural Association of Elefsina “To Adrachti” achieved the inclusion of the custom of Panagia Mesosporitissa in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, i.e., the Greek application of UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), includes dense aspects of popular expression and creativity and reflects the collective identity of the Greeks. The inclusion of Mesosporitissa in this list is a special honor for the city of Elefsina, and a great success for the local Cultural Association “To Adrachti,” which successfully took the initiative to submit the dossier to the Ministry of Culture and Sports, in order for the ancient custom of Mesosporitissa to be included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, as well as in the corresponding UNESCO directory. 

The celebration will take place on Saturday, November 20 at 16:00, in the Archaeological Site, in accordance with health protocols.