Feast in Paros
Text: Christina Fokianou, Licensed guide
Here’s a list with the most important events that take place on the island. Don’t just read about them, experience them and be reborn…
Christmas, New Year’s Day and Epiphany
(December 25th, January 1st and January 6th)
On the Eve of these days children from the villages go around singing carols just after sunset. These are joyful songs, wishing well for the host: «let this house never see a crack and let its owner live a thousand years», or for those away from home «…for those away I’ve got lots to say, I wish you a good evening and let next year find us in good spirits». Children carry small baskets for the offerings (traditional sweets and money), a little boat and keep the rhythm with their triangles.
(on a different date every year)
People dressed up in improvised costumes hit the streets and visit houses collecting sweets, singing and teasing the owners. «Ageranos» is the common Carnival dance. The name probably comes for the dance Theseus and his companions danced on arriving at Delos after killing the Minotaur in Crete. Another explanation relates the dance to the way «geranoi» (geranoi: cranes, the birds) fly before the storm. This dance used to be spread around the Cyclades, but it has survived only on Paros. Dancers always move in a circle resting their arms on their peers’ shoulders forming a kind of labyrinth while each dancer has to continue the previous verse with a new one. These improvised songs are either about love or mocking and teasing. Here are some of them: «your lips are so sweet, your cheeks are like apples, your breasts are paradise and your body a white lily. If only I could kiss your lips, bite the apple, get into paradise and smell the lily». The last of dancers closes the circle walking in the opposite direction from the rest. There are many events celebrating Carnival, with Naousa and Marpissa being the biggest.
In Parikia and Marpisa the old custom of «Lambathiforia» (the torch run) is revived. Women and children run around the houses and sing holding torches in their hands.
Easter in Paros
Throughout the holy week, both residents and visitors experience deep devoutness.
Holy Friday is celebrated in a different way at every part of Paros. In Marpissa, young men revive scenes of the Passion during the Epitaph procession. The custom was first revived in 1927, when the dear departed teacher Vassilia Kafourou-Asoniti taught her young students. Most of the scenes revived today are representations from byzantine icons depicting Lazarus’ Resurrection, the arrival in Jerusalem, Maria Magdalene, the Last Supper, Pontius Pilatus, the Olive Grove, Golgotha, Peter’s Denial, Judas’ hanging, Crucifixion, Disposition, Burial. The custom now is presented in the villages of Prodromos, Marmara and Lefkes. In Prodromos, at the noon of Holy Friday, just after the church service «revithada» is served. This is a traditional fasting dish, offered at the old water reservoir of the village and the event is organised by the local cultural association. Parikia attracts a lot of people during the Epitaph procession as all three procession from its three churches meet in the middle of the coast road.
In Marpissa the Resurrection icon is carried around the streets and the young children re-enact the story. The next day, «Celebration of Love» takes place at Marpissa sports ground. The custom first appeared in 1974 and was organised by a group of local people.
St. George’s Day
Naousa, Aliki and the monastery of St. George in Marpissa organise festivals on that day offering visitors lots of delicacies.
Forty days after Easter Day, Parians welcome the coming summer with grilled octopus and lots of wine in Agios Fokas, Parikia and Piso Livadi. The island’s traditional dance groups are always present.
Klidonas is a very special festival, when the May Day wreaths get burned in Naousa, Aliki and Prodromos. Efforts are made to keep the old custom and is celebrated on June 23th, the Eve of St. John’ the Baptist’s Day. It used to be celebrated throughout the island, but today only in Prodromos is a great festival organised. On the Eve, young men would present the wreath they had stolen from the balcony of their sweetheart and would dance jumping over the fire with her. The belief was that the couple with the most jumps over the flames would marry first. Earlier the young girls would gather in one of the village houses and fill up the «paliatsa», a ceramic vessel with a wide mouth, with water. In it they would put various objects such as an apple with their initials on or other things the owner of which they only knew and cover it with a piece of red cloth. The aim was to find who they were going to marry. On the day, they would blindfold a little girl and ask her to hand the objects from the vase to each of the girls while they were singing «Open Klidonas on St. John’s Day and let the lucky one get his apple» or «on St. John’s Day let no pain enter your body» and other improvised verses. Later they would fill their mouths with the «non-talking water» from the paliatsa and go out in the streets. The first male name they happened to hear would be the name of the man they would marry.
The Festival of Sts. Anargiri in Parikia.
First Sunday of July
Fish Day in Naousa with seafood delicacies and lots of wine.
Aliki and Marpissa celebrate the Transfiguration Day with dance, traditional dishes and wine.
The most important festival of the island, the 15th of August, commemorating the Dormition of Virgin Mary, the Ekatontapiliani (the church with the hundred gates).
Navy vessels arrive on the Eve of the day to take part in the grand celebrations. The massive procession of the miraculous icon is accompanied by the navy and the municipality brass bands. The procession goes around Parikia and ends up in front of the church. In older times the square in front of Ekatontapiliani was full of stall holders selling all sorts of sweets and toys, a real heaven for toddlers. Today this has moved to the coastal road but is not a rich. Celebrations continue with traditional dances by the local dance groups and culminate in a firework show launched from fishing boats in off the port, a really majestic show for both the young and old.
That day Naousa was destroyed by the pirate Barbarossa, who burned the town and abducted its girls. On that day all fishing boats leave the port and sail behind the island of Agia Kali, in the centre of Naousa bay. In the evening, when the church service is over, they set off, beautifully décorated, and appear in the Naousa port in a red background, with all young men dressed as pirates among fireworks. On reaching the harbour, the pirates jump over and grab the island girls, dressed in their traditional costumes, who wait for them going around the streets dancing the «balos». Accompanied by the musicians, they go around the streets carrying people in the streets off to dance with them. Balos is the typical islandic dance, a pirate dance re-enacting the chase of the girl by the pirate. When they look at each other’s eyes they fall in love and when the girl is waving holding her handkerchief in her hand and going around the young man it means that she’s trying to escape his grip.
Singing and dancing at Ambelas on the Day of St. Fanourios.
August 28th & 29th
Naousa and Lefkes celebrate St. John’s Day. In Lefkes the festival is called «karavola», after the local dish containing snails.
Marmara celebrate the day of Pera Panagia.
Enjoy them and be transferred to a different time!