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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With Easter approaching, try these local spring recipes of Chios island!

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Taking our cue from last week’s blog post on the Easter delicacies of Chios island, we offer here a couple of local recipes which are perfect for the fastening period leading to Easter celebrations. These dishes are ideal meze (tapas) for a glass of Chios excellent ouzo or souma (the local spirit distilled from figs).

The recipes are found in the book “Traditional recipes from Kampos, Chios” where we can find a treasure of local recipes collected by the Kampos Cultural Association. The book is published by local “Aegeas” publications and can be found in Chios bookstores.

Broad beans in olive oil

1 part vinegar, 1 part lemon juice, salt

Prepare the broad beans and slice them lightly. Pour water, vinegar, salt and lemon juice in a pot. After it boils, add the broad beans and let them boil for a couple of minutes, but do not overboil them. Let them cool in the water overnight. The next day drain them and place them in a jar of olive oil.

 

Chickpea croquettes

Chickpeas, 1 grated onion, parsley and peppermint, oregano, ½ cup of flour

Boil the chickpeas. After they are ready, drain them and put them in the blender. Add the onion, the herbs and as much flour as necessary. Make the mix into croquettes and fry them. 

Preserved fish roe croquettes

100 grams preserved fish roe, 1 grated onion, 200 grams wet bread, some parsley, flour

We wash the preserved fish roe in cold water, we drain it and place it in a bowl. We add the rest of the ingredients and we mix it. Add some water if necessary. Leave the mix to rest for 25-30 minutes. We make the croquettes, cover them in flour and deep fry them.

Enjoy!

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Easter delicacies on Chios island

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Chios may be one of the most popular Greek destinations for Easter due to the rocket war but at the same time anyone who chooses to visit Chios this period will definitely enjoy savory traditional local dishes. Both the foods of the fast and the meats that follow the Resurrection will amaze you and in this article we offer some suggestions that will take off your meals during Easter holidays in Chios!

 

During the Holy Week, as most people observe the fast, sea food and vegan meals are the stars of local gastronomy. While wandering in the city and the villages, try the small artichokes and broad beans preserved in olive oil, fava puree, and vegan “keftedes” made with tarama, wild greens or chickpeas. In patisseries look for kaltsounia and methismena (cookies without dairy or eggs, stuffed with nuts or jam) and pies made of tamboura (red pumpkin).

 

As for the seafood if you are looking for a restaurant near the city, try Ihthioskala and Daskalopetra where seafood is consumed as soon as fishboats arrive at the harbour. But you should definitely visit the villages of the fishermen such as Lagada, Pantoukios, Kataraktis and Lithi and beaches such as Komi, Gridia and Emporios, where the seafood abound and you will enjoy them “the right way”: directly from the sea to your plate, on a table by the sea accompanied with ouzo.

After the Resurrection, there is meat consumption, mainly goat and lamb and of course the red Easter eggs. Combine them with a visit to a picturesque village like Avgonima or Volissos, Pitios, Mesta, Kalamoti and Armolia. Accompany them with the extra fresh myzithra cheese, rich artichoke or cheese pies and local wine and of course with the amazing Chian tsourekia (brioches)!

 

In the churches of the villages the Resurrection liturgy is very nice, while in the squares there are bonfires in order to "burn Judah". On Easter Sunday before your festive meal, we suggest that you choose a hiking route  from the ones mentioned on our website(http://www.chios.gr/en/things-to-do/peripatitikes-diadromes ) and enjoy your meal with more appetite and fresh air in your lungs!

 

 

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Glorious Greek Easter on Chios Island

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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.

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Heroic Psara, a paradise for food lovers

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Heroic Psara, a dot in the Aegean Sea, a small island famous for its glorious history and incredible beauty. A paradise for those seeking natural beauty and absolute tranquility, but also for the foodies, due to the delicious local cuisine, based on the pure products of the island.

 

The marine dishes, the crown gem of the local cuisine, since the sea bottom of Psara is distinguished by its wealth. Local lobsters are served grilled over coals, in pasta, fried, accompanied with skordalia (garlic dip) in traditional dishes that will enchant you. The fish, fresh and plentiful, is served in all ways and accompanied by wild grasses of the area! If you prefer meat and dairy products you should definitely try stuffed wild goat, the local white cheese, the fresh mizithra cheese and the kopanisti dip.  Accompany your meal with the unique sun-dried wine of Psara, the beloved wine of the legendary “bourlottiers” of the 1821 Liberation Struggle.

 

If you like sweets,    the bitter almond preserve and almond sweets will tickle your palate.  However the true star is the pure natural thyme honey. Although the island’s beehives are active throughout winter, since temperatures are never truly low around coastal regions, the beekeepers of Psara only have one period of florescence and must wait to collect honey in late August. However, this harvest produces a magical honey, imbued with the unique scent afforded by the Psara air and the fresh Aegean breeze to the millions of thyme plants on the island. When you try it you will know the difference.

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Oinousses Maritime Museum

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Oinousses is a complex of islets at the east of Chios Island, opposite Lagada village. The island’s picturesque town, Aignousa, is built amphitheatrically on a steep hill. Its characteristics are the narrow-paved streets and the traditional mariners’ houses.

Oinousses Maritime Museum is a true gem. It is housed in Pantelis Ant. Laimos mansion near the port. It was founded in 1965 and presents the long maritime history of Oinousses, through its collection of model ships, paintings, nautical instruments and books.

A story that spans centuries since the time the sailing ships of Oinousses dominated the sea routes of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, until the transition to steamships, the two World Wars and the role of the merchant navy and the postwar transition to Liberty ships.

The most valuable part of the exhibition is the collection of model ships made by French prisoners of war, during the Napoleon wars. The museum collection also features weapons used by mariners during the 18th and 19th century and paintings by Aristeidis Glykas.  

Opening hours: 08:00-14:00

Entrance: 1,50 € (except for children up to 15 years old)

Contact information: tel: +30 22710 55182

Website: Oinousses Maritime Museum

 

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Lalades, Chios’ wild tulips

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Spring has arrived and our spirits have been lifted at the thought of the colourful wildflowers that flood Chios countryside. Of course, the colour red will dominate the green fields of the island the next few weeks. In a few days the olive and almond orchards of Chios islands will be covered with the special Chios wild tulips, called lalades by the locals.

 

There are four species of wild tulip (toulipa aegenensis, toulipa udulatifolia, toulipa clousiana, toulipa praecox), and the three of them are found exclusively on Chios island, mostly at the central and southeast part of the island. The name lalades comes from the Persian word for tulip, “lale”, which has passed in Chios dialect through turkish. These delicate and elegant flowers create a unique landscape that has inspired poets, painters, photographers and cinematographers over the years.

 

Unfortunately, in the recent years the numbers of lalades reduce every year, because of the uncontrollable and careless collection of flowers. If someone picks a tulip with its bulb, then the tulip will not be able to flower the next year – it is destroyed.

If you have the chance to visit Chios countryside the next few weeks, you will be able to admire, enjoy and photograph a red carpeted field, at the same time paying attention to protect and preserve the flowers. If you would l like to pick a couple of lalades, make sure to cut the flower’s stem but take care not to pick the bulb!

 

As Konstantis, the hero of Petros Martakis Chios Humourous Stories, tells his friends: “Guys, don’t step on the crops and the flowers! Pick just a few of the lalades at the side of the field. But then, why pick them? Can’t you see they are like fires of the spring, painted by byzantine artists in this crazy beautiful icon you have in front of you?”

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Carnival festivities on Chios island

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Winter is almost over and spring is fast approaching. On Chios island you can experience special events and traditions all year long, however, the carnival festivities that take place at this time of year, signify the passage from winter to spring. A lot of them derive from the Greek orthodox tradition, mixed with elements of ancient pagan rituals. This is the case with the Carnival which is celebrated all over Greece, but on Chios it has some special events and expressions, that both locals and tourists can enjoy. These special carnival traditions of Chios are so worth experiencing. Chians are known for their sense of humour and their love for life and for a good time. Consequently, the Carnival period is the perfect time to express themselves in the way they know best.

The highlight of Carnival celebrations on Chios island takes place in Thymiana village, just 10 km from town centre. The Mostra and Talimi events take place there. Mostra is a parade of masquerades, that cross Thymiana village, dancing at the sound of carnival music. The parade usually has a satirical theme. Starting on Friday 8 March, before the last Sunday of the Carnival, the people of Thymiana dress up and set up the Mostra, that is, the handmade carnival chariots, performing satirical numbers and wearing handmade masks (moutsounaries). The celebrations peak on Sunday 10 March, the last day of the Carnival. This year, like every year, the traditional dances Talimi and Detos will be performed, followed by a show by Brasilionico Grupo Percussivo, a group of Brazilian street music, and the traditional parade. Festivities conclude, of course, with a traditional panigyri at the village square.

The Mostra tradition has roots back to the Middle Ages, when pirate attacks to the island were very common. It is said that during the Carnival time, while all the villagers were celebrating, the watchtower guards sent a signal that pirates were approaching the coast. The men of the village immediately went there and set up an ambush. The pirates were defeated and the villagers took their prisoners back to the village where they showed them off (Mostra comes from the Italian mostrare) and celebrated.

In commemoration of this battle and victory against the pirates, a representation of the battle takes place every year, performed in the streets of the village with the traditional Talimi dance. There are two groups of dancers representing the villagers and the pirates. They dance in pairs, holding swords, dressed in traditional costumes. In the end they dance the Detos dance, holding each other by the arms, a sign of reconciliation and friendship.

Apart from Mostra at Thymiana, here is an indicative list of Carnival festivities around Chios island, depicting the various choices we have for these three-day celebrations. Don’t forget to check out our on-line events calendar, which is constantly updated for inspiration:

On Sunday 10 March, 2019

Agios Georgios Sykousis

The custom of the Oxen is celebrated on the last Sunday of the Carnival. It symbolizes the farmers’ fruition, harvest and good crops.

Pyrgi village

The Cultural Association of Pyrgi organizes the traditional event of Karkalousses, where locals dress up and walk around the village making satirical jokes, and the traditional “detos” dance is performed.

 

Lagada and Kardamyla

Carnival festivities, with street parties, traditional music and food from noon until late evening

Volissos village

The dance of Diplos revives every year in Volissos, the largest village of the north part of the island. In the old days, on the last Sunday of the Carnival, at the peak of the celebrations, the people would dance this dance, creating human double chains, as they held hands. They would start from every neighbourhood of the village and dance their way to the central square, creating thus a very long chain. At the same time, the person leading the dance would sing and the others would follow.

On Ash Monday, 11 March

Mesta and Olympoi villages


The happening of Aga takes place at Olympi and Mesta villages on Ash Monday (this year on 11 March 2019). It is a parody of the spring tour that the Aga of Mastichi used to make around Mastichochoria, during Ottoman times. The person that plays the Aga is asked to “judge” the  visitors and make them pay a fine to the association organizing the happening. The celebration involves snacks and lots of "souma", a spirit the locals make from figs, in remembrance of the obligation they had to offer hospitality to the Ottoman tax-collectors and officials.

Agios Georgios Sykousis

On Ash Monday the Funeral of the Dead is reenacted. This custom denotes the end of the Carnival season and symbolizes the wish for a good harvest with the coming of the spring. A group of men with their faces smudged in disguise carry a man who represents the Dead, whereas the people following mourn as the deceased was a very gifted man. Someone reads a eulogy with underlying sexual content.

There’s a great variety of choices then for traditional events and celebrations at the villages of Chios, not to mention the different parties that take place in Chios town, from Friday through to Sunday, at bars and clubs of the town. Get ready then to party, enjoy life and welcome spring on Chios island! 

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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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Chios Maritime Museum

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Chios Maritime Museum is established at an impressive neoclassic building at the centre of Chios town (Address: Stefanou Tsouri 20), that was donated by the heirs of Anastasios and Marouko Patera. It aims to promote the long nautical history and tradition of Chios island and the role it has played in the modern shipping industry. Its exhibition includes naïve paintings of ships by the folk painter Aristeidis Glykas from Vrontados, parts and models of ships, photographs and other artefacts of maritime life. A visit there is a must during a walk around Chios Town.

As you enter the garden and yard of Chios Maritime Museum, you cannot miss the monument dedicated to the memory of 328 Chian mariners who were lost at sea during the  World War II. It was created by sculptor Alexandros Kokkinos. It is made from stainless steel and the 328 names are engraved on it.

Chios Maritime Museum has a library with a collection of books, brochures and documents about maritime themes. It was donated to the museum by journalist E. Batis and the collection is still growing, thanks to donations. The Museum organizes lectures, conferences and educational programs for children. It is also available for hosting events. Usually during the summer, it hosts a couple of very interesting music events, such as Chios Music Festival concerts.

After you finish your tour at Chios Maritime Museum, don’t forget to stop by the cute gift shop, where you can find handmade ceramics, t-shirts and print outs of paintings and Chios engravings.

Opening hours

9:00 – 13:00  (1 November – 30 April) & 9:00 – 14:00 (1 May – 31 October) . Closed on Sundays and official holidays (Open on the Sundays of August: 09:00 - 14:00)

General entrance: 2,50€ - Students and children: 1,50€ - For Schools and Students in Chios: free

Contact information

Tel: (+30) 22710 44139, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Website Chios Maritime Museum

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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