Sunday, 20 August 2017

Celebrating August 15 in Athens


One of the biggest celebrations in Greece is August 15, the day of the Assumption. This day hosts some of the greatest panigiria (festivals). Greeks from Athens and all major cities travel to their villages for non-stop celebrations. 

Every region has its own traditions but overall the day is held in honour of Panagia, the Virgin Mary.
The pilgrimage to Panagia of Tinos is probably the largest religious pilgrimage of the Greeks. The island is completely associated with the Virgin Mary, and thousands of believers flock to the island every year to venerate the icon which some believe is miraculous. The image of believers reaching the church on their knees, sometimes all the way from the harbour,  is quite common. 

Another popular destination is the slopes of Vermion where thousands of believers flock to attend the events that take place in Panagia Soumela and to follow the procession of the icon.





We are atheists but like to go to the church fair in Palaion Faliron. It took us a while to get there, as public transport schedules were greatly reduced and we could not find a taxi. We managed to get there though,





walked around the church,








 and reached the fair that takes up the length of a side street opposite the church.





No big celebrations here, no communal eating, just lots of stalls selling everything you can think of.





It was very busy




Grilled corn on the cob,




household items,




items of clothing,




the paraphernalia required for home shrines: incense, candle holders, incense burners




as well as candles with religious figures




bags,




ice creams




sheets and table cloths




books




puppets: this little girl held one of the puppets she is selling so that I could photograph it




jewellery




crockery




socks: 12 pairs for 5 euros




watches




perfume




prescription glasses for 3 euro (5 euro for 2 pairs)





souvlaki and sausage




with salad




trainers








bags




bric-a-brac




which included a bust of Lenin




babies' slippers - ahhhh




fishing equipment




icons




jewellery and matryoshka dolls




transistor radios and other electrical equipment




underwear




purses - you don't have to go to London to get one with the Union Jack and Big Ben,





'spitiko' halva




and other sweet delicacies,




loukoumades, the Greek version of doughnuts - I was very tempted... they are utterly delicious




this is the way they serve them nowadays - I find this way too disgusting, I like them with just honey and cinnamon, the traditional way




the machine where they shape the balls, and then, straight into the hot oil




nuts




honey




dried herbs




fidget spinners




belts galore




bathing suits,

and so much more....





meanwhile, someone had had enough of it all




It took us about an hour to have a good look at all the stalls, then we decided to walk over to the church. The trams runs along the narrow street between the fair and the church





We had a peep through the side door: the long queue is of people waiting to kiss the icon




We walked round the front of the church - more people kept arriving




the bell tower




and lots of people were milling around






a quick peep through the front door





the view from the top of the steps




a last look at the church and we set off home, which proved to be even more difficult - it took us ages to get a bus, but we did manage to get home in the end.