Like every year, Chios, the fragrant North Aegean Island, is the ultimate Greek Easter destination, mostly because of the Rocketwar event, but for other reasons too!
The rocketwar was and still is the most important event of Easter celebrations on Chios island. Locals from the two largest parishes of Vrontados village, namely Panagia Erithiani and Agios Markos, participate in a traditional event that dates back to the ottoman era. The locals make handmade fireworks called rockets which are fired between the two opposing parishes, in a mock up war that lights the night sky on Good Saturday.
However, we can have many more experiences in springtime Chios, as we discover hidden corners of the island during the Easter Holidays:
Spring is pure magic in Kampos. We may choose to stay in a local traditional mansion. We can visit Citrus Museum to learn more about the history of the citrus fruits commerce in Chios. We will walk across citrus gardens in full blossom, cycle in the narrow alleys of Kampos and go on a gastronomy tour of the area to try local delicacies, such as spoon sweets and other traditional products.
We can visit Chios monasteries, starting with Nea Moni, an 11th century Byzantine Monastery and a UNESCO Monument of World Heritage, where we can admire the famous mosaics, a prominent example of the Constantinople School of the time. Nea Moni also operates as a church where you can follow one of the liturgies of the Holy Week. We will hike on the path between Nea Moni and Agioi Pateres Monasteries, and then tour the medieval traditional settlements of Anavatos and Avgonyma where we can enjoy delicious traditional food at the local taverns.
On Good Friday we visit Chios Castle. From the picturesque church of St. George we follow the Epitaph process to Chios Town square, where an imposing event takes place, as epitaphs from various parishes of town gather. This is a night that lives up to the day’s solemnity: epitaphs decorated with all the flowers of Chios spring and moving byzantine psalms. Alternatively, we can follow the Epitaph procedure at one of the Mastiha villages of the south, such as Mesta or Olympoi.
In Vrontados, on Good Saturday the Rocketwar event takes place, as the handmade rockets are fired between the two parishes, signifying the start of the spring and the most glorious Easter celebration. However, apart from Vrontados, bear in mind that all liturgies of the Holy Week all over Chios Island are loud and noisy, but the smell of fireworks is an essential ingredient of the Easter atmosphere.
After the Resurrection liturgy on Good Saturday, we can enjoy the traditional mageiritsa in one of the local restaurants or hotels. On Easter Sunday a lot of local taverns and restaurants offer traditional goat or lamb and other traditional dishes, which we can accompany with local wine, ouzo or souma.
On Easter Monday, it is customary to go on an excursion in the countryside, while celebrations with traditional music and dancing take place in a few villages.
This year, like every year, Chios is the ultimate Easter island destination, with so many choices of unforgettable experiences.