Curiosities, traditions and legends of Zakynthos

Mythology

It is said that Artemis, goddess of hunting, roaming through the green woods of Zakynthos whereas her brother Apollo played the lyre under the laurel trees extolling the beauty of the island. The cult and devotion, in archaic era, to Artemis and Apollo resulted in the organization of shows and competitions among the islanders. News about the founder of the island come from Homer and concern Zakynthos, son of Dardanos, King of Troy, who left with his fleet from the city of Psofida, he reached the island and founded his Acropolis. Zakynthos, as island founder, it is represented in various coins and is the symbol of the island. The symbol Zakynthos is holding in her hands a snake since, according to some legends, he freed the island from snakes
There is also another theory that the Arcades, in the first millennium before Christ, reached the island with the intention of founding new colonies and to confirm those origins there would be the talents of the people for music and worship of goddess Artemis typical of Arcadia. The Arcades founded the colony Zakantha, which flourished for more than a thousand years until 218 BC, when it was destroyed by Hannibal. Later on Zakynthos passed under the rule of Arkisios, king of Kefalonia, was under the power of Ulysses, king of Ithaca. Together with the other lands ruled by Ulysses, Zakynthos took part in the Trojan War, mentioned by Homer in the Iliad, with twelve warships.
After the Trojan War, with the return of Ulysses to Ithaca, there was the legendary slaughter of Penelope's pretenders among whom there were twenty young people from Zakynthos. This mythological event, told by Homer in the Odyssey, seems to refer to a rebellion in the Ionian Islands that put an end to the power of Ulysses over the enactment of a particular treaty, in which, for the first time, fundamental rights have been approved of a democratic society.

Kantades

The Zakynthos folk music is called Kantades, sweet romantic melodies with a touch of Italian bel canto and Arekia of Crete. The word comes from Kantades 'Cantara', of Italian origin, which means 'sing'. The Kantades are sung by the man under the bedroom window of a girl to express their love. The Kantades are written to be sung in four voices in harmony, with the accompaniment of a guitar and a mandolin. They are completely unique to the island and are still sung in the local taverns and family celebrations. The Kantades are also sung in chorus, always accompanied by a mandolin or a guitar. The first school of this music was founded in 1815 by Italian professor Marco Batajia and the Philharmonic of Zakynthos was established in 1816 and is considered the oldest in Greece.


Popular traditions

Zakynthos is an island rich in traditions closely linked to the religious cult. Traditions are born by residents who have found strength and power in the battles against the occupiers. The lowest social classes, normally excluded from social events, have created a large number of religious traditions and celebrations that allowed them to meet and have fun.
Thus were born the so-called popular festivals, which still revive dozens of villages, small and large. Many people find themselves in the main square of the village and celebrate with plenty of food and drinks, then giving himself to the dances and songs.
Among the best known and popular folk festivals are that of St. Dennis on August 24. This religious festival in honor of patron saint of the island, accompanied by a magnificent procession and fireworks. Apart from the many popular festivals, special importance is given to the Carnival and Easter, two events among the warmest of the local population.