The games of Paros
The game, both as an object and as an action is an integral part of Greek tradition. It is true that children of previous generations were able to grow with a completely different way than children of today. They could run freely in the streets and squares and play in the fields without fear. They also had the ability to improvise freely and create games from their imagination, depending on the materials and space they had available.
Families with many children were an ideal environment for the development of group and creative activities. Growing up in large families, children learn easily to share, but also to appreciate feelings, values, and traditions. The simple and plain objects that were available, along with child resourcefulness, offered spontaneous joy and excitement.
Over the years, the games have developed or modified depending on the facts of each era. Therefore, many traditional games of Paros and other regions, still survive intact or with minor variations and differences. Typical examples of local games are sklavakia, abariza, dekares-amades, mpiz, pastela or hopscotch, pentovola, the string game, yiantes, “svouroi” (spinning tops), mana topi, balls, xylaki, hide and seek, pinakoti, tserkia, blong, feetball.
“Svouroi” of Paros
A spinning top is a “conical object, usually made of wood, used as toy for children to play by supporting it upright on the ground and making it spin” (Babiniotis, 1998, p. 1593). In the language idiom of Paros, the term is masculine in the plural. The “svouroi” are played on level dirt ground. Players are divided into two groups. They draw a large circle and place their spinning tops in the middle of the circle. Then, they move out of the circle and, one by one per group, start to throw their spinning tops with the help of a string, forcefully, towards the centre of the circle, aiming to move as many tops as they could out of the circle. The winning team is the one that will finally move out the most tops.
In the past, children bought their spinning tops from carpenters and turners. The manufacture of wooden spinning tops on a lathe was presented in 2019 at the festival “Routes in Marpissa” by Fanouris Petropoulos.
Archives of the Association “Routes in Marpissa”.
Babiniotis G., Γ. (1998) Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας. Με Σχόλια για τη Σωστή Χρήση των Λέξεων (Dictionary of Modern Greek. With Notes on the Correct Use of Words). Athens: Lexicology Centre.
Special thanks to Angelos Agouros, Giorgos Agouros and Nikolaos Evlogias for the information and valuable assistance.