1. The Holiday Of Fun!
“Apokries” is the Greek word for carnival. It lasts 3 weeks and it has differences from
place to place. It is the most cheerful holiday of the year! These days the customs of the
feast, entertainment and 'masquerade' of disguise appear, that have remained from old
feasts of the Roman era and it’s devoted to the ancient Greek god of wine, Dionysus.
Etymology of the greek word “Apokries”!
The meaning of this word is complex. It comes from the verb “apecho”( απέχω/ abstain) and the
Greek word for meat “ kreas” ( κρέας/ meat). Previously the carnival was everywhere in Greece with
group masquerades, dances, feasts, satire and various special customs in each place. It was the
opportunity to have fun, drink wine and make thousands of quips. During these three weeks, Greek
people eat a lot of meat, milk, cheese, butter, whatever they want! They get ready for the “Megali
Sarakosti”, which lasts for 40 days of fasting. Specifically, it’s a period of a great diet, when we are
allowed to eat only fish, pasta, legumes, vegetables and fruits. However, we can’t eat dairy
products or meat.
Some people believe that Apokries is similar to Halloween, but in reality it’s completely different.
The celebration of this holiday is special and really funny, because everyone gets dressed in fancy
and weird costumes, wears oversized accessories and organizes crowded parades. Some Greek
cities are quite famous about their uplifting celebrations. Let’s have a better look at them.
2. After Clean Monday we celebrate the beginning of Sarakosti, which means the end of
Apokries. Clean Monday is called like that because Cristians clean themselves spiritually
and physically. It’s a fasting day and a holiday for Cristians.
During Clean Monday we usually eat “lagana” a special, wide bread, made just for that
day, “taramas”, a sauce from fish eggs (it tastes like chaviar), and other fasting foods,
especially vegetables and beansoup without oil. Clean Monday is celebrated 48 days
before Easter Sunday!..
The other famous custom of Clean Monday is the kite flight! The kite is usually bought
or homemade (mostly some years ago or in the more traditional villages).
Clean Monday ( Kathara Deftera)!
Furthermore, in some places, people often play flourwar!!
3. March 25th, The Greek Independence Day
On March 25th
, the Greeks celebrate the day they declared the Revolutionary War against the Turks
The Peloponnese, with its long tradition of resistance to the Ottomans, was to become the
heartland of the revolt. In the early months of 1821, the atmosphere in the Peloponnese was tense,
and by mid-March, sporadic incidents against Muslims occurred, marking the start of the uprising.
For example, on 17th March 1821, the Maniots declared war on the Ottomans. This marked was
the start of a "Spring" or revolutionary actions from other controlled ares of Greece against the
Ottoman Empire. According to the tradition, the Revolution was declared on 25th March 1821 by
Metropolitan Germanos who raised the banner with the cross in the Monastery of Agia Lavra.
The Peloponnesian revolt was quickly followed by revolts in Crete, Macedonia, and Central Greece,
which would soon be suppressed. Meanwhile, the Greek navy was achieving success against the
Ottoman navy in the Aegean Sea and prevented Ottomans’ attacks from the sea.
This day is also celebrated with military and school parades and students at school celebrations
recite poems and sing relevant songs.
Independence Day coincides with the religious feast of Annunciation, so it is also a religious
festival. The Annunciation is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel
to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God.
4. THE EASTER
The Christian Easter
Easter is the most important religious celebration of Christendom. We honor the memories of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. At
first, it was the biggest Jewish celebration,that was celebrated in honor of the release of the Israelites from the Egyptian captivity.Its
name comes from the Jewish “Pesax” that means “crossing” in remembrance of the Chosen’s people crossing from slavery to
After the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord, the meaning of that celebration transformed and got a new dimension.
The celebration of Easter for Christians takes place on Sunday after March’s full moon and it lasts two weeks: from Palm Sunday to
Sunday of Thomas.
Easter is the brightest celebration of Christianity and maybe it is the only celebration that closes in it all the feelings of anguish, pain
and sadness for the Passions and the Crucifixion but also the passing to the happiness and the hope that the Resurrection brings.
It is the most important festival of the Greek Orthodox Church coming to its peak the Holy Week.
During all the days of the Holy Week Services are held every evening in the churches that recount the sufferings of Jesus. Greek
people have a variety of customs that take place during the Holy Week. Some of them are:
•We are dying red eggs that symbolize the blood of Jesus.
•We clink the Easter eggs because they symbolize the Resurrection, as the eggs symbolize life and creation.
•On Holy Friday, a special celebration takes place when all churches decorate with flowers the tomb of Christ (named Epitaphios).
Then, all these flowered tombs make a tour of the town with people following behind and are finally gathered at the squares. It is a
day of mourning.
•The Easter candles are given like a present to the kids to be used on Holy Saturday. These candles are usually decorated either
with toys or flowers. Depending on the age and the sex of the children the candles take a different shape. In the old ages the kid
decorated his candle by himself. Nowadays the godfather of each child brings to his godchild an Easter candle.
•The peak of the Easter is on Good Saturday at midnight, when people go to the church and get the Holy Light. At midnight exactly,
the priest appears holding a lighted torch and shares the Holy light on the candles of the people nearest to him. Then, these people
share at their turn the Holy Light with their close neighbours until everybody in the church and the churchyard gets it. It is a beautiful
spectacle. Then, fireworks explode in the streets around the Church. Then families and friends go home and we eat the traditional
speciality called "magiritsa", a soup made from lamb tripe, rice, dill and lemon.
•On Easter Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection. At noon we roast the lamp at the spit and we celebrate the day with wine and
5. August 15th, The Day of the Assumption of the
On that day Mary's ascent to Heaven is celebrated. It is one of the official
holidays in Greece which is celebrated with great pomp and reverence to Virgin
Mary’s memory in many parts of the country and it is called " Summer Easter" .
Great pilgrimages take place in all places of Greece, particularly in Tinos
island, Paros island and Patmos island. Virgin Mary is the protector of all the
country and many chapels dedicated to her can be found all over Greece.
Thousands of Greek people attend the church service on that day and say a
prayer to Virgin Mary in order to save their soul from sin.
The celebration on the 15th
of August in the island of Tinos
6. December 25th, Christmas
Christougena, which in Greek means Christmas, is celebrated on the 25th December with religious services and
feasting. It is of great importance, as it is celebrating the birth of Christ but it is also a time when families come
together to celebrate.
In the past, people used to decorate wooden boats for Christmas, honouring the nautical tradition of Greece, but
today people follow western traditions and decorate Christmas trees. On December 24th, children traditionally
sing Christmas carols (kalanda) from door to door.
Although Christmas is not the biggest holiday of the year in Greece (it's Easter), it is an occasion to enjoy a
traditional "holiday table" with friends and family. Preparing a "holiday table" means a soup, two or three main
meat dishes, several salads, a couple of side dishes, lots of bread, cheeses, and of course, wine.
Pork is a traditional meat at the Christmas meal, as well chicken and rice soup. Sometimes we also make stuffed
turkey or chicken.
Melomakarona, spiced honey cookies with walnuts, and kourambiedes, butter cookies with icing sugar and
almonds, are the traditional Christmas sweets.
While other cultures have Christmas elves, the Greek equivalent is some mischievous and dangerous spirits
called the Kallikantzari (or Callicantzari). The Killantzaroi appear only during the 12-day period from Christmas to
the Epiphany (January 6th). They are supposed to come from the middle of the earth and get into people's house
through the chimney! The Killantzaroi do things like putting out fires and making milk go off. Having a fire burning
through the twelve days of Christmas is also meant to keep the Killantzaroi away.
Greece has its own version of Santa Claus, they call him Saint Vasilis, who comes to their home on Christmas
eve to deliver a few small gifts to the children. However, the custom in Greece is to exchange presents on New
7. This is the Polytechnic!!!!!
of November 1973
The revolution of Polytechnic in 1973 was a massive manifestation of the popular
rejection of the regime of Colonels’ junta. The revolution started on 14th
with the squat of the Technical University (Metsovio Polytechnic) of Athens by the
students and escalated into an anti-junta (chounta) revolution ending with the bloodshed
during the morning of 17th November. It was based on a sequence of events which
started with the entrance of the tank in the area of the Technical University and the
reinforcement of the relevant martial law which prohibited people’s assemblies and their
circulation in Athens and Thessaloniki.
Historical route in Greece
of April 1967 Greece was under the dictatorial governance of the army, a regime that
had prohibited individual freedom
•Had dissolved the political parties
•Had exiled, imprisoned and tortured politicians and citizens based on their political beliefs.
•Junta*(chounta), in an effort to control every aspect of politics, had banned the student elections in
the universities, by forcefully recruiting the students as well by imposing non-elected leaders of
student associations in the National Student Union of Greece (EFEE).
8. “FREEDOM, BREAD AND
All the above actions, naturally, created intense anti-dictatorial feelings in the students, like the student of
Geology Kostas Georgakis, who in 1970 burnt himself to death in public in Genoa of Italy in a protest against
junta (chounta). Based on this event, the first massive public protest against junta (chounta) came from the
students on 21st
of February 1973.
The events of Polytechnic are since an anniversary that is celebrated every year on
of November. It is characterized as a school celebration. Many songs, poems
and literary documents have been written as an honor to the battle of students that
are presented during the school celebrations. Also, videos that contain all those
events of the year 1973 are shown. The songs are sung by the students
accompanied by musical instruments. The literary documents and poems are read
*Junta (chounta), this term was used by the Greek people for the dictatorial
the school celebrations. Symbol of this celebration is the red carnation as
an indication of the battle and the revolution of young people against the
dictatorships and their oppressors.
9. January 6th, Epiphany or Theophania or “ PHOTA”
Theophania (meaning "vision of God") is on January 6 and it is a Christian feast day
that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. On that
day we also commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.
We usually refer to that day as “ PHOTA” meaning “ lights” . This is the day when the
"kalikatzari", or hobgoblins that appeared during the period of Christmas, are re-
banished to the netherworld by the church's rituals. During Fota, waters are blessed and
evil spirits are banished. In all Greek cities where there is sea, rivers or lakes, the priests
throw a cross into the water and young locals dive to compete for the privilege to catch it
as it is believed that it brings good luck.
During that day children sing the Epiphany carols and we pay visits to our friends who
are called Fotini, Fotis , Urania , Jordan ,Theofanis and Theocharis as they celebrate
The Phota  together with the great feast of St. John the Baptist on January 7, when the
numerous Johns and Joans celebrate their name-day, mark the end of the long festive
10. Agios Charalambos- Patron Saint of our town
The memory of the martyr St. Haralambos is celebrated by our church on 10th February.
St. Charalambos is particularly popular in the Holy Metropolis of Ilia. The glorious celebration in
his memory takes place in our town Pyrgos, the capital of our district and the seat of our
Metropolis, which he also protects. People attend the church service and litany and also take part
in the procession of his sacred icon all around the town. Also, people form long queues on that
day waiting to worship the icon of their Parton Saint and light a candle in His memory. His
memory is also celebrated in the churches of other surrounding towns and villages of our region.
St Charalambos is honored in our country as a protector of infectious diseases, particularly of the
African plague which is often represented in pictures with a demonic form defeated by the saint.
Many are the tales of the removal of the plague and the rescue of various towns and villages of
our country thanks to him. Such must be the case of Pyrgos, which had often been inflicted with
The town of Pyrgos was protected by Saint Charalambos during the plague epidemic of 1860 and
The Royal Decree of 02.03.1948, which formally introduced the celebration of the patron saint
Charalambos, it was nothing more than formalizing this reverence and honor of the people
11. Ochi Day, a national anniversary, is celebrated throughout Greece, Cyprus and the Greek
communities around the world on October 28 year, to commemorate the negative answer of the
Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas when the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini asked him to allow Axis
forces to enter Greek land and occupy certain "strategic locations" or otherwise face war.
October 28th, Ochi day (meaning day of NO)
In response to Metaxas's refusal, Italian troops attacked the Greek border at 05:30 am which meant
the beginning of Greece's participation in World War II. On the morning of October 28 the Greek
population took to the streets, shouting 'ochi'.
We fought for our country against the Italians and managed to win many battles, although we were
fewer in number and we didn't have good military equipment. However, the coordinate attack of the
German-Italian forces in April 1941 succumbed the Greek army.
The events of 1940 are commemorated every year with military and student parades. In the school
celebrations students recite poems, sing relevant songs or act theatrical plays. On every
anniversary, most public buildings and houses are decorated with Greek flags.
12. The three HIERARCHS (HIERARCHES)
•Who were the three Hierarchs (Hierarches)?
The three Hierarchs are known as the three eminent saints and Theologists of the Christian
religion. They are the patrons of literature and students, St John Chrysostom, St Basil the
Great and St Gregory of Naziansus or Gregory the Theologist. They were distinguished
fathers of the Church and Saints. Their wisdom and activity gave them the title of the
Greatest Luminaries as is chanted in their chant (Apolytikio) “The three Greatest
Luminaries of the Triune Godhead”.
•When do we celebrate the honor of the three Hierachs and what do we do on that
day at school?
We celebrate their honor on the 30th
of January with a formal school holiday. We do not have
school on that day and students and teachers can go to church in the morning to attend mass
and listen to the Royal Hymn “The three Greatest Luminaries”. At the end of the service there is
a lecture about the three Hierarchs by professors of Theology or Philology*.
Mayday is called the first day of May, which is a public holiday for many countries of the
world. Most of the times the Day is synonymous with International Workers' Day (Labor
Day), a day that honors the struggles of the labor movement.
In Greece, all the people don’t spend the day in the same way. For example, the people
who live in a village usually spend the day making wreaths with flowers and with sprigs
from bushes. On the other hand, the people who live in towns or cities go on strike and
with their families visit places with a lot of plants and flowers and make a picnic. Some
other people visit their relatives who live in the countryside and spend together the day.
The children make bracelets and necklaces with a yellow flower, which is like a daisy,
but it is called “may” (mais in Greek).
14. January 1st, the New Year's Day
January 1st is the celebration of Agios Vassilis (the Santa Claus in Greece is
Saint Basil). That day, Greek people attend church services. Also, Greek
families get together or visit friends’ houses and it is a chance to eat, drink and
laugh. When the clock strikes midnight, we cut the “vassilopita”, a sweat bread
with a coin inside which brings good luck for the year to the person who will find
it. January 1st is also the day when gifts are given to the children. In all Greek
cities the coming of the new year is celebrated with impressive fireworks.