On Chios island, the cradle of the Greek shipping industry, we celebrate New Year by decorating model ships! “New Year’s model ships” is an authentic local tradition that takes place on New Year’s Eve normally at the town square, where locals and visitors can enjoy it.
Groups from various neighbourhoods and parishes of Chios town, Vrontados and the villages form crews and work throughout the year to create their own model ship, either cargo or warship. This time of year, they go around town carrying their model ship and singing traditional New Year’s carols of Chios island, which include custom made good wishes depending on who the recipient is, known as “penemata” in Greek. Penemata have improvised lyrics and follow musical paths of traditional Asia Minor carols.
On New Year’s Eve the crews gather at Chios town central square, or Homerion Cultural center, depending on the weather, to participate in “The best model ship contest”, organized by Chios Touring Club and Municipality of Chios. For a few hours, the crews stir up the town singing their “penemata”, and playing the traditional Chios bagpipe and the traditional drum. During the night, the crews visit neighborhoods all over town. People welcome them and listen to the carols and their good wishes, which are specially improvised to every household (the lyrics are adjusted depending on whether the specific household has children, immigrants or seamen).
Following this link, you can listen to an excellent performance of Chios traditional New Year’s carols and “penemata”, by Pantelis Thalassinos.