The Sarakatsani are a Greek speaking ethnic group that lives throughout the Greek mainland, as well as other Balkan countries, mostly the mountain areas of Bulgaria and North Macedonia. Traditionally they lived as transhumant shepherds leading their flocks to the mountains during the summer and to pastures with lower altitude during the winter.
Historically centered on the Pindus mountains and Roumeli, mostly Agrafa, most Sarakatsani have abandoned the transhumant way of life and have been urbanized.
The Sarakatsani have a long and rich culture. The base of their social life was the “tselingata”, small autonomous communities consisting of 20-50 families. The “tselingata” are actually a kinship system where family relationships are the cornerstone and determine solidarity among the members. The leader of each tselingato was called “tselingas” and was elected by the leaders of the families who had the right to dismiss him in case they thought he was unfit.
In the area of Alexandroupolis the Sarakatsani settled mostly in the mountain villages of Aisimi, Avantas, Nipsa, Sykorrahi but also in the lowland villages of Loutra and Monastiraki.
The traditional clothes of the Sarakatsani women are particularly interesting as they used various geometrical shapes to symbolize and indicate the social place and economical state of each woman inside the community.
In the Alexandroupolis Historical Museum there is a permanent exhibition of the folklorist Eleni Filippidi containing traditional costumes and artifacts of the Sarakatsani women of Thrace that describe their transhumant way of life.