April 28, 2021

The Paschal "Photikia"

In the Greek city of Ioannina, from the time of Ottoman rule and especially during that of Ali Pasha of Tepelena (1787-1822), the arts flourished, such as silversmithing (ecclesiastical and folk), gold embroidery, weaving and coppersmithing.

The "photikia" are an Easter custom, related to the art of copper.

The traditional art of coppersmithing can still be admired in Ioannina, in shops on Anexartisias Street and in Kaloutsiani Square.

When someone's godchild reached the age of 8 and up to 12, the godfather, several days before the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, usually on the Saturday of Lazarus, bought clothes, underwear and shoes, for the "Bright Feast" that began at midnight during the Resurrection Divine Liturgy.

The godfather also gave his godchild a useful copper vessel, which they called "photiki". In Greek, "photiki" refers to something luminous, hearkening to the day of Baptism, when the baptized is illumined and is dressed in new bright clothes which are also called "photikia" and are to be provided by the godfather.

The paschal photikia was usually a pan, a pot, a frying pan, a jug without a lid, a bragatsi, depending on the financial ability of the godfather, and he handed it over to the godchild on Holy Saturday.

In all the copper vessels, the coppersmith engraved the initials of each owner's name and a date, so that they were easily recognizable, after the repeated tinning on the tinner.