Edessa’s great historical heritage and cultural mixes -we should not forget that Edessa was conquered by the Romans, Slavs, Ottomans and Byzantines - and the significant effect of the natural environment, with water power being its dominant element, shaped the area’s cultural context. Edessa combines traditions and customs that have their roots in antiquity and are associated with the four seasons, water and religion. Furthermore, water is a symbol of purification of the souls of the faithful and is connected to all the major celebrations of Christianity.
Dionysian rites, worship to appease the destructive force of water and traditions associated with agricultural production are well kept in Edessa until today. Therefore the area’s manners and customs follow and adapt to the four seasons, depending on the available natural resources and agricultural production.
The year begins with the celebration of the Epiphany in Kioupri area in the icy waters of Edesseos river. Next comes Edessa’s Carnival which has its roots in antiquity with the traditional "Randistes" and "Koudounoforoi" (men wearing bells). The celebration of Carnival in Edessa is related to the change of season from winter to spring and the young people are dressed in animal skins, posing as bears and wearing bells make noise to wake up in the spring. On Sunday of Carnival the custom of "Lamkas" opens and closes the Easter season; the children of the family are trying to catch with their mouths an egg that is tied to a pole. It is said that "the mouth is sealed with egg and opens with the Easter egg (red eggs)," thus symbolizing the fasting period.
Every second day of May, the "Black Day" is dedicated to fertility of the land with the water being the main element of the festival acting as "holy water." Besides the spring season has always been very important for Edessa. This is when the celebrations of spring and cherry begin and hold up to the summer, when the preparations of the vintage start. During summer, too, when there was a drought Edessa locals organized rain invocation with the so-called custom of "Baintountoule": a scarecrow is processed around the city and everybody wishesto come the precious rain.
In the wider area of Edessa, from late October to mid-December we find traditional coppers that prepare the "fresh water", raki, culminating in the Festival Tsipouro in early November, accompanied by a traditional feast. In the cultural life of ancient Edessa, the "Pig the Pasifilos" (Chiros o Pasifilos) custom had a special place: a little piggy, perhaps, the first cultural tourist in the history, who visited the area to attend a Dionysian celebration. Since the pig is associated with the local gastronomic tradition just before Christmas during fasting inhabitants slaughtered the pig using every part of it and they made the "Tzoumprinkes" (local dish).
The changing of the equinox from summer to winter solstice is also a custom from ancient times. Locals chant Colinnta Babo (traditional song) and celebrate by lighting the fire and reviving the custom of bear. Young men dressed like bears dance and eat symbolizing the preparation of the bear for hibernation so as to wake up to celebrate carnival. Christmas and New Year celebrations are connected also with local culinary traditions and local products (dried fruits, sesame pork, etc.), to start again the new cycle of seasons and the revival of traditions with the celebration of Epiphany.