Saturday 02.03.2024 ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ

Corfu ΄Petegoletsa΄ a candidate for Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory

cultural heritage
27 Nov 2023 / 14:54

ATHENS. It was presented by the Corfu Events Organisation (OKE) at the Intangible Cultural Heritage Network meeting, along with the ΄Saint΄s Loukoumades΄ and the Patouni Soap Factory.

The meeting of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Network, which took place from November 24 to 26 in Athens, had a strong Corfiot presence. The event was organised by the Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, marking the twenty years since the adoption of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (UNESCO 2003).

The purpose of the meeting was to familiarise participants with the valuable work of communities and entities that keep traditions alive, exchange ideas, and establish foundations for new collaborations.


These are all those pieces of history that are not taught in school textbooks but are imprinted with indelible ink in the collective memory of each place and remain alive in defiance of the passage of time. The preservation of intangible heritage is more challenging than preserving physical, tangible objects, and their revival, especially in an era where everything is changing at incomprehensible speeds, is largely due to the dedication of local entities and cultural organisations.

The Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory concerns traditions or living expressions inherited from ancestors through oral traditions, such as folk traditions, festivals and rituals, dances, performing arts, social practices, knowledge, and techniques.

Corfu presence

In this mosaic of traditional customs, with roots lost in the past, there were 50 organisations from all over Greece participating. Presentations were made by the Corfu Events Organisation (OKΕ) with "Korfiatika Petegoletsa", Spyros Paipetis, the creator of the award-winning documentary he made with cinematographer Spyros Bantios, "Corfu, the Island of Tiganites", presenting the tradition of making loukoumades), as well as the Patouni family with the presentation of the traditional Patouni Soap Factory that steadfastly resists the passage of time.

New entry

"Petegoletsa" is a new entry in Intangible Cultural Heritage, as the Patouni Soap Factory, the Loukoumades, and the island's Philharmonic Societies are already registered in the Inventory.

The presentation of the "Petegoletsa" tradition is considered the first step taken by the Corfu Events Organisation towards candidacy for inclusion in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is announced annually by Ministerial Decision.

This unique carnival event is revived every year by Corfu Events Organisation on the last Thursday of the Carnival. It is a beloved tradition, derived from the satirical temperament of the Corfiots, a form of "social criticism" - essentially gossip - adapted to the local social or political circumstances at the time. It is performed by actors in prose written in the authentic Corfiot dialect, with the actual scene being the balconies of the narrow alleys. Its roots go deep into time and could be characterised as a kind of street theatre, with many elements from Comedia dell'Arte. The event is complemented by satirical songs and Ionian serenades.

The Patouni Soap Factory, which has been registered since 2017, also presented its educational activities. This sole remaining traditional soap factory, which, for five continuous generations since 1850, has produced soap from locally sourced olive products, applying traditional recipes and techniques based on the soap processing-cooking in the cauldron. Its products are sold worldwide. In 2008, the building of the soap factory, along with its equipment, was designated as a preserved monument of industrial heritage by the Ministry of Culture.

The "Saint's Loukoumades", which has been listed in the Ministry of Culture's Inventory since 2021, are closely associated with the Corfiot custom of making and sharing "kouloura" during the three-day celebration of Saint Spyridon in Corfu. Traditionally produced and offered by various communities in every corner of the island or sold in shops and by itinerant vendors, they were initially linked to the overnight vigil at the church of Saint Spyridon (Vegioni), where the faithful consumed the fried pastries to help endure the fatigue. Gradually, it evolved into a ritual that became an integral part of Corfu life in relation to the feast of their patron saint.

In 2022, the Corfu Philharmonic Societies were included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage by the decision of the Minister of Culture and Sports. Over decades, these Societies have been engaged in diverse activities and have provided free music education, contributing to the experiential cultivation of musicians and listeners alike. The initiative for inclusion in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage was taken jointly by the Corfu Philharmonic Society and 'Mantzaros' Philharmonic Society.