The 15th of August is a day that everyone anticipates in Greece. It’s a public holiday and considered to be one of Christianity’s most important days, the Dormition of Virgin Mary. Throughout the country, thousands of people attend religious services, celebrate and participate at local festivities and feasts.
There are various and different kind of festivities about the holy figure of Virgin Mary all around the country. Every single one of them is unique and manages to combine in the most profound way a deep feeling of religiousness and an inexhaustible source of joy and laughter, both for the locals and the travelers. Let’s visit the top 5 places to celebrate the 15th August holiday:
The island is the center of a yearly pilgrimage that takes place on the date of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (15 August), and the Panagia Evangelistria church holds a miraculous icon of Virgin Mary that was discovered underground on January 30 in 1823, after many excavations. It is one of the most known and active festivities in Greece and it was named by the locals as The feast of Megalochari.
The festivity that takes places at Christo Rachon on the island of Ikaria during 15th August holiday, has quite a reputation, mostly because of its ideal location and the continuous celebrations and fun. Most of the participants in this event are considered to be of quite a young age and it is the place where everyone can learn the moves of a traditional dance known as Ikariotikos.
The largest monastery on the island is the one of Panagia Spiliani (Blessed Virgin Mary of the cave) at Mandraki. It is where nine-day-long festivities are held in order for the believers to show their respect and love towards the Mother of Christ. Both locals and visitors can enjoy the religious services as well as the food, the wine and the traditional dances.
In the villages Markopoulo and Pastra on Kefalonia take place two very special phenomena, that some locals and tradition consider them to be miracles by Virgin Mary. In Markopoulo village, from August 6 through 15 little harmless snakes with cross-like signs on their foreheads appear in and out of the Dormotion of Virgin Mary Church and are believed to bring good luck. In Pastra village on the other hand, the lilies that decorate the icon of Panagia Gravaliotissas bloom for the second time through the year. Because of these events and their importance for the local communities the celebrations and festivities that take place are grand.
Besides the religious side of the holiday, it is also a big celebration for the local community. The quality of food, drink and music are of great importance for people to have a good time. The feast of Panagia Panochoriani on Amorgos is well known for its local spelcialties like patatato and ksidato and the legendary local drink rakomelo.
Wherever you choose to go, have fun and enjoy the traditions, customs and feasts of 15th August holiday in Greece.