New Year’s Eve in Chios
New Year’s Eve Model Ships
The Chiots’ strong connection to the sea and the seafaring is mirrored to the island’s traditions. During the Christmas holiday the children visit the houses of their neighbourhood singing Christmas and New Year’s Carols carrying a miniature boat that they have made themselves.
In recent years, the tradition has evolved in a competition organised by Chios Municipality and a local cultural association. It has rules and terms of participation. On New Year’s Eve, groups of children and teenagers representing different neighbourhoods of the town, take part in the new year eve’s model ship competition. The participants have created models of merchant navy or war ships up to 5 metres long. They present them on stage signing traditional carols, and they compete both for the best model ship as well as the best carol performance. The traditional carols have influences from Asia Minor Greek carols. This event takes place on New Year’s Eve either at Chios Town square (Plastiras square) or at Homerion Cultural Center.
Easter in Chios
The Rocketwar tradition
The rocketwar custom dates back to the years of the ottoman rule. It takes place in Vrontados in the Eve of Easter day (Good Saturday Night). A symbolic “battle” using hand made rockets, by local crews, takes place between the two largest parishes of Vrontados, Agios Markos and Panagia Erythiani.
In the recent years the large quantities of the rockets used create a magnificent spectacle in the spring sky. The custom has received attention from national and international media, therefore attracting a large number of visitors every year.
The municipality of Chios is taking all the necessary precautions in order for the event to be held smoothly, without any hazards. The visitor can enjoy a magnificent visual experience by watching the event from the area of Aipos mountain. Access to the mountain's snake road, which grants admittedly the best view of the event, can be achieved by car or on foot. It is advised to seek the maps that are printed every year instructing visitors on the easiest and fastest ways to get there.
Carnival in Chios
Chios Carnival is rich in local traditional evnts that date back to the medieval and ottoman years. Almost in every village you will find that a carnival event is taking place, usually on the last Sunday of the Carnival period.
The Mostra of Thimiana
Mostra is the most well known carnival event in Chios. It takes place in Thimiana village, and it is said to date back to the medieval times.
It is said that during the Carnival time, while all the villagers were celebrating, the watchtower guards sent a signal that pirates were approaching the coast. The men of the village immediately went there and set up an ambush. The pirates were defeated and the villagers took their prisoners back to the village were they showed them off (Mostra comes from the Italian mostrare) and celebrated.
In commemoration of this battle and victory against the pirates, a representation of the battle takes place every year, even during the occupation.
At the same night they dance the “talimi” a kind of dance representing the warriors movements during the battle against the pirates. There are two groups of dancers representing the villagers and the pirates. They dance in pairs, holding high large swords. In the end they dance the Detos dance, holding each other by the arms. On Sunday the carnival parade takes place, followed by dancing.
The "Agas" traditional event
The Agas event takes place at the Mastic Villages (Mastichochoria), that is at Olympoi and Mesta, but also in Pyrgi and Lithi on Ash Monday. It dates back to 1830 – 1840 and it is a parody of the way the Ottoman judges used to behave, punishing the Chiots with every opportunity they had. As it takes place on Monday after the Carnival, a lot of carnivalesque elements have been incorporated.
The Agas events has evolved in an all-day celebration with interesting performances and traditional music and dancing, that attract a lot of visitors to these medieval castle villages of Mastiha.
The "Diplos" dance in Volissos
The dance of Diplos revives every year in Volissos, the largest village of the north part of the island. In the old days, on the last Sunday of the Carnival, at the peak of the celebrations, the people would dance this dance, creating human double chains, as they held hands. They would start from every neighbourhood of the village and dance their way to the central square, creating thus a very long chain. At the same time, the person leading the dance would sing and the others would follow. A big party follows, where the visitors are invited to try the local spirit, souma, and local pastries.
The traditional panigyri
Παραδοσιακό πανηγύρι στο Πυργί
Even if you are not into the traditional ways of entertainment, it is worth attending a traditional folk festival, known as panigyri in greek, at one of the villages. The locals have always loved dancing and singing. Consequently, every village would organise at least one festival once a year at its central square, usually in celebration of its patron saint.
Try to attend one of the festivals of the small, picturesque villages of northern Chios. According to tradition, on the day of the festival lunch is offered to everyone. The traditional dish is goat in tomato sauce and rice that has been cooked in large cauldrons. Alternatively, you could choose to attend a night festival, where dancing goes on until morning..