Women’s Costumes

OPA-FESTIVAL0041-828x552The women’s costumes are from the Macedonian village of Alexandreia in the the Imathia regional unit. The village also goes by its ancient name; Gidas. The white costume was traditionally worn by girls and young women, while the dark costume was reserved for married women. Traditionally, these costumes were hand-stitched by the wearer and her female family members.

There are many components of the costume. One of the most distinct is the ornate wool apron, which was functional as it was artistic. Women typically wore gold and silver coins as jewelry around their necks and wastes; these were often family heirlooms passed from one generation to the next.

The village of Alexandreia is located in an area considered to be the heart of the ancient Macedonian kingdom and is about 12 miles from where King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, was buried. This ancient connection has a  influence on the costume as well; the hats adorned by the women is reminiscent to the helmets worn by the soldiers in Alexander’s army. Alexander had a profound respect for women, when compared to his contemporaries. Therefore, after years of leading their husbands in battle, he decreed that all the women from the Macedonian villages could wear headpieces representative of solder’s helmets. He did this to honor their fight and sacrifice on the home front and highlight it alongside the sacrifices made by his male warriors. This tradition in its exact form survived for over 2,000 years.

Though traditional Greek dress fell out of fashion in the cities in the 19th century, it was worn as daily attire by many in villages until the early 20th century, especially by women. They are still worn for some holidays and festivals held in villages to this day.