February 29, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Easter: a tradition of amusing "fiery battles" on Chios resumed

On the Greek island of Chios, traditional fireworks launches again took place this night. The grandiose fireworks in Vrontado took place with fewer flare guns, but the spectacle is as impressive as ever.

The custom of “Easter fights” in the village of Vrontado, one of the most famous in the world, has returned after 2 years of the pandemic to bring impressive pictures of Easter celebrations to everyone present. This year, for the first time, the number of rockets (about 10,000) was significantly reduced, which helped its smooth conduct.

The Easter custom of the “war of fireworks” (ρουκετοπόλεμος)

The comical “rocket war” (literal translation from Greek) is a custom observed every Easter in Vrontado (Chios), during which, on the night of Christ’s Resurrection, thousands of homemade rockets are fired between two churches in the area, Panagia Eritiani and Agios Marcos. Panagoussi (parishioners of Panagia Ereitiani) aim at the dome of Agios Markos, and Agiomarcousi (parishioners of the Cathedral of Agios Markos) at the clock on the bell tower of Panagia Ereitiani, writes iefimerida.gr.

Hundreds of homemade fireworks soar into the sky from two local churches located on hills 400 meters apart. Parishes are considered to be historically rivals with each other, and every year they find out who won the “rocket” battle.

Preparations take place several months before teams of two parishes prepare an “explosive cocktail” and place it on makeshift rockets. On the night of Holy Saturday, rockets are placed on wooden bases, rocket launchers, in order to choose the right trajectory and reach their goal. The night sky is filled with multi-colored flashes of thousands of flaming rockets, which create a spectacular holiday atmosphere.

The custom has its roots in the period of Ottoman rule, when the Vrontadus used small cannons with loud bangs to celebrate Easter, but the Turks, fearing that they could be used against them, banned them and replaced them with homemade ones.

On Easter Sunday, missiles that have found a target are counted and the winner is declared. The two “rival” parishes will meet again next year, maintaining a longstanding tradition.

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