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Avgonima & Nea moni

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Avgonima & Nea moni

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This is a village in central Chios, at 16 Km from Hora (capital), on the west side of the island, and at about 6 Km from Anavatos. The name of the village, according to Konstantinos Amantos (literary figure), derives from the local name “Avgonimata” (an area between Avgonima and Anavatos), which - in Greek - means “low - value fields”. The village is very old, probably pre-mediaeval. Jeronimo Ioustiniani has referred to the village as a fortress, which, according to legend, was devastated by pirates. Elinta (or otherwise Alinta, Alous, Alounta or Eleounta) is a sheltered bay on the west of the village - Archaeo - logical excavations on the area have revealed finds dating from the Romans. The scarcity of fresh water - a great problem for the local people - has been commemoreted in a verse, written by some unknown visitor to the area in the past, which is still said nowadays: “Avgonima is a nice village - with a disadvantage, though. By the time you pour the water, the pot has burnt!” This is still another proof of the choice of the places for habitation, not only according to the fertility of the land and the abundance of fresh water but also with the needs for protection against invaders in mind. During the 19th century, the people of Avgonima used to carry goods from one place to the other on their mules, or buy the local produce of the nothern villages, pack it and re-sell it at a profit. There was an open-air weaving area in the village, countin at least four looms, on which they made different kinds of cloth for sale. There ’s a photo of women weaving in the book of H. Pernot (1901). When the village was connected to Hora with new roads, most of the villagers - even women - turned to the production of coal. This is a profession still prospering nowadays. In the 1970s, many men from Avgonima worked at the harbour, in Hora, as porters.

The first signs of immigration to the USA were documented in 1916. Since then, many families have left their village in pursuit of a better future. After World War II, many of the doughnut makers in N. York were from Avgonima, having been instucted on the profession by Antonis and Nikos Mendinis, experts in the field, who came to N. York at the beginning of the 1950s. Many fraditions characterise this village, related to the religious ceremonies. Among them, the “wedding” calls for a three-day celebration, during which people enjoy a meal of chicken, offered by the neighbours to the newly - married couple, washed down with “souma”, a local drink of Kourounia village. At the wedding of G. Sgouros, who is now the oldest resident, 80 Kgs of “souma” were drunk (1930). At the last weekend before Lent, a bagpipe was brought to the village by musicians from Ag. Georgios Sikousis or Lithi, which was used to entertain the men of Avgonima only. They used to call at every house in the village and finally gather at the pub in the square.

On the night previous to Resurrection day, a huge fire is made outside St. George ’s church on the main square, on which Juda’s dummy is burnt. Lots of visitors come to the village on the night to see the fire and congregate at the Church at 10 p.m.

At Christmas, villagers used to take slaughtering their pigs turns in, then distribute the meat to all the other families of the village. In this way, everyone had his share of pork for a long period.

The village produce included olive oil, grapes and wine, as well as dairy produce from the many goats, which the locals took furns in herding. The bark of pine-trees was used in tanneries, and carob was also traded. The local brook is home to eels, which are caught by the villagers.

Avgonima of the present day

A great part of the village has already been restored to its former beauty of traditional architecture. During the 1960s the village was almost abandoned and its inhabitants migrated to the cities. This, however, was a blessing in disguise, since the area kept its style intact.

Nowadays, many of the ruined houses, some of them almost 30 years old, have been restored and used as comfortable cottages by the people of Chios. The unique tourist resort, accredited by the National Tourist Authorities, called “Spitakia”, consists of small detached houses, fully equipped for a pleasant stay

The permanent residents of the village are now about 12, which is mote than double their number ten years ago. The abundance of fresh water, the free public transport twice a day to and from the western villages of the municipality of Omiroupolis on a five - day - a week basis, has contributed to the revival of the village.

The village is visited by many people, who seek a calm and quiet resort. On a clear weather, one can see Evia on the west, Andros and Mykonos on the south and, beyond Psara, the island of Skiros.

Beaches • Elinta: a nice pebbled beach, at 9 Km from Siderounta village, which can be reached by car. • Sani: a little way before Elinta, on the right, is a very quiet beach which requires a 10 - minute walk. • Giali: a beach that requires a one-hour walk along the brook from the village. Ripe and sweet figs are a treat in August! There’s also a rough road starting from the Lithi crossing. The sea, warm or coal at places, is very clear and refreshing.

Relegious festivals and celebrations

• St. Georgios, Elinta (April 23): A great celebration, taking place around the country church, during which and after Mass, everyone present is offered food and “souma”. In case of a sudden downpour, a small hall, opposite the church, offers a welcome shelter. In the past, the villagers used to carry the icon of St. George all the way to the village on foot. The person who made the greatest donation to the church could keep the icon in his home for a long time. However, this used to cause misunderstandings and, given the consumption of “ouzo”, the celebration usually ended in a fight. That’s why the local people still call this celebration “St. George, the quarrelsome”! Nowadays the custom still holds, but the icon is carried in a car. • Ag. Isidoros (May 14): The celebration takes place at a privately-owned country church, on the way to Anavatos. It has recently been renovated, and food is offered to the congregation after Mass. • On the eve of St. Paul and Peter’s (June 28) celebration, the icon of the Saints, which is kept in St. George’s church is offered a whole-night Mass (8 p.m. to 01 a.m.), followed by a dinner for the congregation. • Virgin Mary’s Birthday (Sept. 9) is celebrated at a small country church in the area of “Vlavaika”, 100 m before we enter the village. • St George’s “messa krevati” (Nov. 3) is celebtated on the village square and signals the beginning of winter. Food, mainly composed of snails, is offered on the day, but the Mass usually starts on the eve (Nov. 2nd).