During the last days of December there is always a moment during which we inevitably reflect on the past year and make plans for the future, “for the New Year”. From the ancient times and on this transitional time has been given the outmost attention transfiguring the winter solstice into an outpour of stories, believes and traditions.
In some places such as libraries, ateliers or even shops these manifestations often meet all at once giving direct inlook into the vast cultural heritage related to Christmas time and the New Yea’r Eve.
Entering Maria’s workshop called m2 have reminded me of many christmas flavored connotations…Greek and beyond. It takes skill to be able to balance the contemporary “Santa Claus” imagery with the Messinian paysage.
Maria Zaharopoulou who is a graphic designer and a handmade objects maker runs her atelier/shop in a fishing village of Marathoupolis located very close to the town of Gargalianoi. Every season she creates a new plateau reflecting the relevant traditions and her own current predispositions next to her handmade jewelry creations and sawing projects as well as eternally present marine imagery. Nowadays her shop has been filled with items carrying messages of good luck and fortune: tiny benevolent gnomes climbing on branches, tin villages and Christmas trees and beautiful New Year’s good luck charms so popular in Greece. Gnomes: Gnomes are mythological creature from Scandinavian folklore very similar to the Greek kalikantzaros. It is generally described as being no taller than 90 cm, having a long white beard, and wearing a conical or knit cap in red or some other bright color. According to tradition, the nisse (gnome in Danish) lives in the houses and barns of the farmstead, and secretly act as their guardian. If treated well, they protect the family and animals from evil and misfortune,and may also aid the chores and farm work.However, they are known to be short tempered, especially when offended. Once insulted, they will usually play tricks, steal items and even maim or kill livestock.
New Year’s good luck charms are still wildly used in Greece. They come in many forms with the most popular being an ornament for the house most often hung on doors or doorknobs deriving from the ancient tradition of hanging a wild onion plant kremmydas, which as believed, was keeping bad spirits aways.
The charms have many elements including gold and silver as well as small objects such as bells, pomegranates, dimes, boats, Christmas trees, stars, horseshoes and keys which all have their *symbolic significance. Turquoise, coral and the blue “evil eye” are also incorporated as they are considered protective against misfortune and gossip.
Gouri means good omen, but the name also indicates the “magic” luck bringing power of the object.
I believe that Maria has created her good luck leitmotiv vibe quite unconsciously but it works like a charm!
There are many beautiful objects handmade by Maria in the M2 hub: jewelry with a touch of modern and a drop of Byzantine style…leather goods, scarfs, children toys…and Maria can reached directly at her FB page M2handmade creations…
*some symbolic meanings:
Pomegranate: a symbol of fertility, abundance and good luck.
Kremmydas (Scilla Maritima): The ancient Greeks believed regeneration and health symbol and great weapon against the evil eye.
Petal: Symbol of happiness and condom from the evil eye. He should be hung behind the door and with the opening upwards.
Four-leaf clover: It is said that it took leaving Eve from Paradise. Besides good luck and considered erotic filter, especially if the leaves are heart-shaped.
Eye: Worn for protection against the evil eye.
Garlic: Known medicine and aphrodisiac since ancient times, during the Middle Ages was used as an amulet against evil demons and vampires.