Momogeri celebration in Komotini, Greece 31 Dec 2011.
Momogeri or Momoeri (Grk: Μωμόγεροι ή Μωμόεροι) is a Pontic custom which dates back to ancient times. The custom which today is primarily a satirical one was usually performed during the pre-Christmas period (Dec 15) up until the middle of January (Jan 15) and sometimes even till the month of February. Due to the geographical isolation of Pontic Greeks, the custom was a form of acknowledgment of their Greek origins and also a way to forget the hardships often endured while under Turkish rule.
In 400AD, Asterios, the Bishop of Amaseia, refers to a loud celebration of people which included disguises on the 1st of January each year. In Ancient Greece around 600 BC, a spiritual celebration called The Cult of Dionyssos was regularly performed. It too included loud celebrations involving spiritual elements. The origins of the Pontic ritual of Momogeri is therefore very much tied in to Ancient Greece.
The Pontic custom of the Momogeri is still alive today particularly in various parts of Greece where Pontic Greeks reside. In the week before new year, men will dress in various costumes, each costume symbolizing a part of Pontic culture and folklore. The bear symbolizes strength, the old woman a symbol of the past, the bride for the future, the horse for the development, the doctor for health, the soldier for defense, the goat for food and Father Christmas symbolizes the New Year which will arrive in a few days. Today the ritual is more of a recreational type whereas in the past it was considered magical and soul cleansing.