In the depths of time, the Halloween custom “of the Yuroukas” is lost in the beautiful village of Agia Paraskevi in ​​central Lesvos.

Last Saturday of Halloween every year “yurukos”, in white breeches and shirt, red belt and red fez, with their faces some smeared and others floured, with their arabades and pramateia arrive from their lairs in the mountains to the central square of Saint Paraskevi.

This is followed by a feast with carnival songs and of course everyone is invited, as long as they are naturally in the right mood. In the late afternoon, the disguised get on the arambadas and pour into the neighborhoods singing, improvising while of course receiving treats and teasing.

The party continues until late at night in the cafes.

What were the Yuruks?

The Juruks, or Jurukides, “yourukdis” in the local dialect, lived in tents or small stone houses in the mountains or in isolated parts of central Lesbos until, like Turks, they were transferred to the opposite shores in implementation of the Treaty of Lausanne.

In the area of ​​Agia Paraskevi, there were settlements of Giurouks in Ferana, Bouvaria and elsewhere. To make a living, they cut down pine trees and made wooden utensils for daily use, such as boards, boats, wooden pestles, ladles, pestles, and other such items that they sold in the villages of the island. They also sold walnut and wood while some of them worked in the pine forests collecting resin.

In the implementation of the Treaty of Lausanne, many of the Yuruk of the island are said to have reacted since they did not consider themselves Turks. Muslims, but not Turks, with whom they did not even have friendly relations. Alevis without mosques, Ramadan and women who walked around with their hair and face uncovered, the Yuruks preferred relationships with Christians while they especially honored the Virgin Mary.

And on Holy Monday, they went down to Agia Paraskevi in ​​groups, going from house to house and collecting in their “turvades” – sacks made of goat’s wool – whatever food was left in the houses from the week of Tyrini, such as rice milk, cheeses, myzithres, pittas and all other non-fasting things to consume, because of the strict fasting that had started for the Christian inhabitants. Instead of these foods, they gave the residents of Agia Paraskevi wooden utensils they had made.

Their strange clothing and movements had been the subject of carnival satire since long ago in Agia Paraskevi (since the end of the 19th century at least) and is preserved to this day, where the custom is revived by the Folklore Society of Agia Paraskevi.