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


ice creams

sheets and table cloths


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



socks: 12 pairs for 5 euros



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

souvlaki and sausage

with salad




which included a bust of Lenin

babies' slippers - ahhhh

fishing equipment


jewellery and matryoshka dolls

transistor radios and other electrical equipment


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



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.

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