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GREECE: Local Customs

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LOCAL CUSTOMS

Greece organises and welcomes festivals since the antiquity.
Today, the Greece Festivals have a religious basis and are in accordance with the Orthodox calendar.

The Orthodox calendar is similar to the Catholic calendar except from Easter.

Other important festivals of Greece have a cultural nature. Many theatrical plays are performed in the country's ancient and modern theatres. Cinema is also well represented in Greece and a

March 25: Feast of Annunciation

It is a feast which celebrates when the angel Gabriel announce Mary about the incarnation of the Christ.

April 23: the Feast of Agios Georgios (St George)

The feast is celebrating the knight who killed the Dragon. Saint George is the patron of the shepherds and celebrations are organised in all the country. Great festivities also take place in Arahova and Skyros, George is patron saint.

May/June: the Day of the Aghio Pneuma (Holy Spirit)

The feast take place 40-50 days after Easter. Festival takes place every year in Thessaloniki.

The country also has an interesting musical scene during the summertime with many national and international bands.

January 1: the New Year's Day

January 1 is the Feast of Áyios Vassílios (Saint Basil) and is celebrated with church services. It is also the day of the "vassilopita", a sweat bread with a coin inside which brings its finder good luck for the future year. January 1 is also the day were gifts are given to the children. Use your Greece cell phone rental to stay safe.

January 6: the Epiphany

It is the feast of Ayía Theofánia, or Fóta which celebrates the day when the "kalikántzari", hobgoblins which appeared during the period of Christmas, were re-banished to the netherworld by the church's rites. During Epiphany, waters are blessed and evil spirits are banished. At lakeside, seaside or riverside locations, the priests throw a cross into the water and young local compete for the privilege and blessing of recovering it.

January 8: the Yinekokratia

The feast of the Yinekokratia takes place in some villages of Thrace, a north region, where Saint Domenica is celebrated. It is a day where men and women reverses their daily roles for the day.

January 31- February 22: The Carnivals

The Carnival is called "Apokries" and is expressed by three weeks of feasting and dancing for three weeks before the Lenten Monday (Katharí Dheftera). Important celebrations take place in Patra, Xanthi and Cephalonia with chariot parade and costumes parties.

Easter

Easter is the most important
festival of Greece and the Orthodox Church and it really worth to be seen.

The first ceremony takes place on Good Friday where the "Epitafios", an imitation of the Christ's funeral bier, is beautifully decorated with many flowers by the women of the parish. The "Epitafios" is then paraded through the streets of the villages or the neighbours of the cities. In some region of Greece such as Crete, this ceremony is accompanied by the burning of
effigies of Judas Iscariot.

A great celebration also takes places the Saturday after, for Christ's triumphant return. At the stroke of midnight, all the lights of the churches are extinguished and symbolises the darkness which envelops Christ as He passes through the underworld. Then a priest appears at twelve o' clock, holding aloft a lighted taper and chanting "Avto to Fos… "(This is the Light…) and shares the Holy flame on the candles of near worshippers. Then, the worshippers share at their turn the Holy Light with their close neighbours until the entire church and the courtyard full of people are illuminated by the Holy Light. It is a beautiful spectacle.

Then, unorganised fireworks explode in the streets around the Church. In some places such as Agrinion, men throw impressive fireworks and accidents are made every year.

Worshippers then bring the burning candles home and make with the black smoke of the candle the sign of a cross above their home's door. It is supposed to bring good fortune.

After midnight, the families and friends meet to eat the "Mayeretsa", a soup made from lamb tripe, rice, dill and lemon. The rest of the lamb will be manually roasted Sunday morning for the lunch, with wines and dances.

This festival is of great importance in all the region of Greece but some place are very famous for their Easter: Hydra, Corfu, Pyrgi on Chios, Olymbos on Karpathos and St John's monastery on Patmos.

August 15: Day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

This feast celebrates Mary's ascent to Heaven. Great pilgrimages take place to Tinos and festivities are organised in Páros, Lesvos, Olymbos or Karpathos.December 25: Christmas The feast is of great importance as it celebrating the birth of the Christ. The traditional Greek decoration was a wooden boat but today, the decoration is closest to the western tradition.It is a day were many religious and musical festivities take place but also shopping festivities as all the occidental countries.The 25th is also a day were children traditionally sing Christmas carols (kalanda) from door to door asking for money.

March 25: Greek Independence Day

It the day of the celebration of the beginning of the Greek revolt against the Turkish occupants in 1821. It is celebrated with military parades all over Greece.

May 1: Labor Day

It is called "Protomayia" and it is a urban holiday when people traditionally go to the countryside for picnic and pick great bunches of flowers.

It is also a day where large demonstrations organised by the left wings take place.

October 28: National Anniversary

It is the day of the National Anniversary of Greek Independence. The day is characterised by military parades and folk dances. The day is also called "Ohi Day" in honour of General Metaxa's famous "Oxi!" (no!) as a refusal to Mussolini's demand to occupy the country during World War II.

Use your international cell phone rental to keep track of these many festivals in Greece.

 
 
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