• Byzantine Tales

The Byzantine celebration of Kalendae (With English subs)





An old Greek movie(Η Εορτή των Καλενδών) about a Byzantine celebration stemming from the Ancient Pagan Roman times, called Calends (That's where the word calendar comes from). The Romans called Kalendae, the beginning of every month. Τhe Kalends of the New year was celebrated with a lot of pre-Christian customs some of which are introduced in this movie. Check the part where they narrate the life of Theophano in 22:48.


In the movie, two Frankish ambassadors visit Constantinople and witness the festivities of the Kalendae of January. These celebrations had a lot of pagan features (at least those that the church could tolerate). Fun fact: Up until nowadays, it's a Greek custom for children to visit houses and sing Christmas and New year's day carols called Κάλαντα(Kalanda).


1:59 One of the "Franks" explains that he is a Breton. The Romans collectively called all Westerners, Franks. The woman is shocked about the size of the Byzantine Empire and blames it all on the Pope.


6:13 The first song of the celebration. The courtesans of the tavern sing a playful song!


8:19 The misunderstanding between two Roman soldiers. They boast about their deeds mentioning the siege of Chandax, the conquest of Cyprus and Antioch, in reference to the conquests of Nicephorus Phokas. They also mention that they were part of Emperor John Tzimiskes' army!


9:55 The tavern owner scolds them. She mentions the map, implying that Byzantine infighting has led to decline.


10:48 The two soldiers(drunk by then) cry about the deaths of Nicephorus Phocas and John Tzimiskes


11:35 They start singing a song called ευοί ευάν. It's an ancient phrase meaning Hurrah or cheers! It sounds the same as the Latin word Eviva which has the same meaning. The song talks about a soldier leaving for war and his wife asking him where is he going. It mentions the medieval reality of warfare, the likelihood of death, his wife's request for jewels from the loot! etc.


14:02 A Byzantine noble arrives. A rich merchant!


15:11 The rich merchant shows his status by ordering a lot of food. Many of his choices reflect the taste of the Byzantine cuisine during these times!


16: 45 The Franks are curious about the tool the merchant used to eat his food. It's a fork! It was still something very uncommon in the West!


17:34 Pyrrhichios dance! An ancient Greek war-dance which has survived up to our days. It's better known as Serra the Pontic Greek dance.


22:48 The best part of the movie imo. A Byzantine musical narrating the life of Theophano! (Yes, the protagonist of the graphic novel Theophano)


32:57 A cuckold is seeking his wife. The soldiers intervene to protect her. The patrician says the law can't protect her. 35:25 The movie turns more modern Greek. A song where a man praises a woman he loves. 39:13 A liar says a quite persuasive lie!


40:16 The liar presents himself to the crowd and challenges one in a lying competition.


48:00 A Makellarikon dance. A dance performed by the butcher's guild. It has survived up until our days as a Greek dance called Hasapikon(Χασάπικο)

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