“Purpuris is Coming!”: Michael Pappas on the Little-Known Thracian Custom

On Art and Aesthetics

Michael Pappas

In the northeastern Greek town of Didymoteicho (just two kilometres away from the Greek-Turkish border), December 27 is the day of Purpuris—a character who visits the houses of neighboring villagers, dances around their yards, wishes prosperity and fertility for the year ahead. The house owners must treat him with food and drinks, specially Tsipouro, a pomace brandy.

Athens-based photographer Michael Pappas travelled all the way to the administrative region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace to meet Purpuris, a funny and frightening masked and bearded figure that seemed to me part-Santa Claus, part-Billy the Puppet of the Saw horror movie franchise.

Michael—born in 1980 in Kirinthos village, Euboea island and educated at the Academy of Leica, Athens—is dedicated to exploring local Greek customs and events. These could be weddings, christenings, litanies, processions, firewalking, Easter celebrations, feasts of the Holy Spirit and a variety of saints, boar sacrifices, national…

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