Serenades

Serenades (kandathes), primarily erotic songs hummed usually in the evenings by the young, in the accompaniment of instruments – lyre – are not found only in Chania, but here the tradition is still “kept alive”.

The word in Greek means “night song” and is derived from the Italian word canto that means sing. Although the origin of the word is Italian, the serenade as an action is a habit that seems to come from antiquity and, specifically, from the island of Crete.

The habit of the young Cretans to promenade the streets while playing various instruments and singing erotic couplets is connected directly with the tradition of mantinada. But mantinada, with its rhymed, 15 syllables verses is the morning serenade with a varied content, not exclusively erotic.

The serenades are often mentioned in the texts of the Cretan literature, confirming that the historical tradition of serenade goes back centuries in Crete.

The best known evidence for the serenades is this of Erotokritos, who plays the lute at nights and sings love songs about Aretoussa outside of the palace:

“You heard, Aretoussa , the sad news?

Your sir had exiled me to foreign lands?

Four days he only gives me to stay,

And from then he told me to leave, far away to go.

And how to leave you, and how to be so far away from you,

And how to live without you in that break up? ”

The serenades are not for entertainment, but they are the singing outburst of the erotic longing of youth.

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