Cultural Events

Carnival in Thymania

In Thymiana this year, the Carnival was celebrated on Sunday the 13th of march, whilst others celebrated the next day. Typically the streets are filled with dressed up people, food stands and snack bars on every corner, and space for the parade to take place.

In the car on my way to Thymiana, I was told that this parade was good, but I should not expect too much, like Rio. That is true, it is not like Rio carnival, it is significantly smaller, but definitely worth a trip.

As I was approaching the parade, the music became louder and the streets became narrower as the crowds got bigger. At first everything reminded me of the national celebration in Norway, but then I saw the fleets. Hand crafted fleets with different themes, and music to go with it. Many people were dancing in the streets, some were drinking free Chios beer, and others were eating fresh souvlaki from the food stands,

The atmosphere of the carnival was happy

, everyone seemed happy, children dressed up as Disney princesses, was sitting on their fathers shoulders in order to see everything and boys dressed up as pirates or superheroes, were running around play fighting with their imaginary weapons.

Some of the fleets were so good; it must have taken them months to build. My personal favorite was a fleet that looked like a cake and a woman dressed as a princess was standing on top of the cake and on the bottom of the cake, there were small children dressed as bakers. Later that afternoon I saw children running after the same princess asking to dance with her.

 

When the parade finished 1,5 hours after I arrived, the streets were filled with confetti and other party supplies. We followed the crowd to a space were you could buy souvlaki and beverages, and they were playing traditional music for everyone to dance to.

 

This was a great experience, a great celebration for people in any age to enjoy.

The Greek Independence Day on 25th of March 2015

Every year on the 25th of March whole Greece is celebrating. In every school children create a parade and theatre plays or other presentations to the topic 25th of March. In the cities there are bigger parades and the Greek flag is present everywhere. But what is this exciting day about?

In 1453 after many years the Ottomans finally took over the Byzantine Empire. So Greece was under Ottoman authority over 400 years. Not till the 19th century they started to work against the Turkish oppression. They built small politic groups, which worked secretly first, to prepare for the revolution against the rule of the Turks. On the 25th of March in 1821 they started the revolution and this day is seen as the start of the Greeks’ lib.

Also this year the schools prepared celebrations. They happened already one day before the national holiday. In the third primary school they showed a theatre play and traditional Greek dances. This time we helped them to create and craft costumes and props. We spend the whole previous week measuring, cutting, gluing and painting. And the children did a great performance. They wore nice costumes, had even steels and the children dressed up as Turks had a drawn mustache in their face.

In the same way the second primary school, where we assist, too, did a beautiful celebration with music, dances and children playing several instruments.

Then, on the 25th of March, we went to Chios City to see the big parade.

Again, many schools from Chios were represented by the best students and also different clubs, like the sport club, the scouts and the club for traditional Greek dances were marching in the parade. We also could see the army, the police, the captain school, representatives of the church and even some from the municipality.

 

The families of the parade’s participants were so excited to see their relatives marching and cheered a lot for them. We took again many photos and saw some familiar faces – children from the primary school who walked for their clubs.  So, in the end it was again a very nice experience for us to see how the Greeks celebrate their country, the achievements in the history and their family.

Rocketwar

No, it is not necessarily New Years Eve when you hear rockets and fireworks in Vrontados. It is an old tradition there to fire thousands of rockets at two churches in the night before Easter Sunday. This is called rocket war because both churches have a team and they pretend to be in a war against each other.
It is difficult to tell how and when the "Rocket War" tradition started in Vrontados. Today there are many different versions of the story and we will tell you two of them:

The first version says that it has its origins in the 19th century, when the Ottoman occupiers confiscated the cannons of the locals because they feared that they would be used in a rebellion. So the residents of Vrontados had the idea of using rockets instead. This became the traditional annual Rocket War.

The second story states that this tradition was born during the Turkish occupation. People from the island were prohibited from celebrating Easter the way they used to. So the Christians from the churches of San Maria and San Marco decided to have a fake war with rockets to keep the Turkish away. Indeed, the Turkish were frightened by the sudden violence and kept a safe distance while the rockets were fired. In the meantime, the communities were able to celebrate Jesus' resurrection in the churches and the Turkish occupiers had no clue what was really going on.


For more information check www.rocketwar.com.


Greek Independence Day Parades 2014

What better way to get to know the Greek culture than experience the Greek Independence Day on 25th of March? In order to honor the final independence from the Turks there are several small parades in every village of this beautiful island and a bigger one in the capital town Chios city.

Of course we didn't want to miss this important cultural event so we watched the small parade in Vrontados first and went after that to Chios city. There many different people participated in the parade: The students of the Primary and High Schools as well as some kindergarten children were marching down the main street to the port. After every school represented itself it was the turn of the cultural associations like scouts, sports and folkloric dance clubs who joined the parade in their traditional outfits. To conclude the parade in an impressive way, the army with it's different security forces marched in the end.

You could see how the families of the marching students were really proud of their children being a part of this important day. It seemed like the whole island came together in Chios city to cheer to the marching people. Everybody had Greek flags and waved them proudly while enjoying the celebration events. In this kind of parades you get the opportunity to see traditional dresses as well as listen to traditional music which is very interesting.

For us foreigners it was in a positive way surprising that civil people like students and members of cultural associations get the opportunity to march side by side with the army and security forces. Besides the flags and the happy spirit everywhere also the clothing was an indicator of how important that day is for the Greeks: many people were dressed up, especially the women often put on their best dresses and high heels. As the weather was luckily very sunny it was the perfect day for this kind of event because everybody enjoyed being outside so the cafeterias were full of happy people drinking one of Greece's incredible frappe's.

 

Historic background

Christmas Celebration

On the 18th December the Christmas Theater of the primary school of Vrontados took place. All the parents and children arrived and were very curious about the theater. We were also very excited about it, because we prepared a short play with the children from the 5th and the 6th grade, too.

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