Holy Week and Easter on Chios Island

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Easter holidays have officially begun and our daily routine is adapted accordingly. The Holy Week on Chios island is determined by the fast, the Easter celebration preparations and, of course, the visit to church.

Observing the Holy Week liturgies is a must for a lot of people on the island, given that Easter is the most important celebration of the Greek Orthodox Church. The Holy Week liturgies can be impressive, moving and very spiritual. If you are looking for an authentic experience of Greek Easter, Chios island will spoil you for choice. Participating in a Holy Week liturgy in one of the ancient monasteries of the island, or in one of the castle villages of mastiha, is an unforgettable experience.

Holy Thursday in Nea Moni monastery of Chios

Nea Moni is the 11th century Byzantine monastery and UNESCO world heritage monument on Chios island. On Holy Thursday, the day Jesus’ crucifixion takes place, the congregation gathers to listen to the reading of the twelve gospels under candlelight, the imposing dome and the famous golden mosaics of the church dedicated to Virgin Mary’s dormition.

Holy Friday in Chios Town and the Mastiha villages

On Good Friday the Epitaphs in every church are decorated with fresh fragrant flowers. It is customary for locals to visit several parishes in order to admire their Epitaphs and pay their respects.

On Good Friday Evening the Epitaph procession of the town’s Cathedral takes place, accompanied by the Chios Philarmonic and a military group. The procession arrives at the town square where it is met by Epitaphs from other town parishes, creating an imposing spectacle. The Epitaph procession at the Castle of Chios is also very moving, as it passes through the narrow Castle alleys. Often the procession passes by Chios port at the time the ferry arrives, allowing for passengers and crew to disembark in order to pay their respects.

Following the Epitaph procession at one of the villages of Mastiha is a unique experience. From Vessa and Olympoi to Pyrgi and Mesta, whichever village you choose to visit on this day, it is certain that you will have an unforgettable experience.  

Holy Saturday at the Rouketopolemos (Rocketwar) of Vrontados

This is the main event of Easter in Chios. In Vrontados, at the north of the town, the two largest parishes, Panagia Erythiani and Agios Markos revive an old tradition. At Easter night they light hand-made rockets, signifying the victory of life over death and creating the most glorious spectacle of Greek- Orthodox Easter you have ever experienced.

Happy Easter to everyone!

* Thanks to Politis newspaperChiosphotos.gr and Tolis Flioukas for their photos.

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Barbeque Thursday!!!

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Greek Carnival, the three weeks period before Ash Monday (11th of March for this year), is one of the most characteristic and distinctive festive celebrations, with customs that have their roots in the Dionysian celebrations of ancient Greece. The whole country celebrates joyfully, and Greeks wear costumes and consume large quantities of meat and wine. But most of the meat is consumed during the second week, especially on Thursday, which the Greeks call “Tsiknopempti” (Barbeque Thursday).

 

In Chios, Tsiknopempti is a very festive day!  Barbeques are set up in every corner and smokes and smells of charcoal grilled meat are diffused above the town and villages.

If you happen to be in the city of Chios such a day, take a walk in the streets and be a part of the festive atmosphere. Chians grill outside their houses and their taverns, but also the butchers and the distillers put charcoal grills outside their shops and everyone is welcome to taste hot “souvlaki” or a piece of meat. Of course fat meat is in order! In pastry shops you will find the traditional “kataifi”, the traditional Carnival pastry, plain or stuffed with nuts, or even covered with rich cream. Due to the festive character of the day, in many restaurants you will find live orchestras or DJs.

 

If you still have an appetite for a nice drive in order to enjoy the nature and quietness, visit a village and enjoy your meat in a traditional tavern, accompanied with local cheeses and especially “mizithra”, which is a fresh and creamy cheese with gentle texture. Enjoy your meal combined of course with local wine, ouzo or souma.

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November in Chios island: at the traditional distilleries of souma

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The liqueurs and ouzo of Chios are famous, but the less known souma is the star for this season. From the end of October to mid-December, the traditional distilleries operate in many villages of Chios and the locals enjoy the ritual of distillation of this traditional spirit.

The raw materials for the production of the souma are figs and this is the main difference from tsipouro, which is made from grapes. The figs, harvested at the end of August, are dried in the sun for about twenty days and then they are transported to the distillery, where they are put into big barrels with water, mixed with yeast. They ferment for about two weeks and then they are ready to be transferred into the copper still.

 

Aromatic plants or other fruits (anise, apples, mandarin oranges, quinces, as well as a small amount of mastic) are added to give a special flavor and aroma according to each producer’ s family recipe. Then the stills are filled and insulated with simple daily materials, the fire will be set, the boiling begins and the feast will follow!

The locals are gathered in the traditional distillery and while waiting for the souma to get ready they eat “meze” (traditional snacks) and they sing and dance, sometimes accompanied by live music! Although the process of distilling souma is not offered as an organised tourist activity, according to the tradition everyone is welcome.

So next time you are in Chios island during for this period, ask the villagers for information about next scheduled distillation and take part in the feast!

 

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Contact: Regional Unit Of Chios Department of Tourism | Phone numbers: 0030 22713-50514 & 0030 22713-50516 | FAX: 0030 22713-50517 | Emailtourismos@chios.pvaigaiou.gov.gr