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 newspaper, Chiosphotos.gr and Tolis Flioukas for their photos.