Generally, the day started with early morning mass in the old village of Ermioni. From the church, a procession took place where all the people congregated at the harbour front. The priests blessed the sea, followed by a wooden cross being thrown into the sea, together with an icon. The tradition is that young men who are destined for their forthcoming military service dress the boats, and the night before the YALA YALA, are heard around the village, singing and drinking lots of Brandy and other strong stuff, which will keep them warm when they dive into the cold sea. Once the relics were thrown into the sea, all the men dived in and the one that retrieved both relics was blessed with 12 months of good fortune. After this blessing and ritual, the Mayor of the region and other civic dignitaries went back to the town hall for further blessings, but this time of the Epiphany cake.
The Greek carnival got under way in February and this will be the same for 2014. The main carnival weekend will start on the last day of February and will continue into the first few days of March. Main Carnival weekend for 2014 will commence Friday 28th February - Sunday 2nd March. Ermioni is only a small working town, but does host an annual carnival with different annual themes on a smaller scale, mainly for children, but adults do join in. The whole local community joined in the spirit of dancing and partying, as carnival time is for masquerade parties, parades, feasts and fun. Although most carnival related events are historically connected with the ancient worship of the Greek god of wine and intoxication, Dionysus, masquerades and carnivals became very popular throughout Greece during the Venetian period. Sadly like all good things, the feasting and drinking atmosphere ends with the beginning of the 'Great Lent'.
Clean Monday or Kathari Deftera is referred to as Ash or Shrove Monday. This day marks 40 days before Easter and the first day of the 'Great Lent'. The top of Pronos Hill is where all the activity took place. A great place to fly kites from, because of the strong winds. Children and adults alike, showed off their skills in flying kites. One year saw food and wine being served, with music and dancing by the local community.
A major national holiday, which brought many people to Ermioni. This day celebrates the start of the rebellion against the Ottoman Turks, who had occupied the country for nearly 400 years. Church service started the day, with a procession that took the community and visiting people down to the harbour front, but en-route a tribute was paid at the Museum memorial. At the front, the march took place by children and students dressed in national costumes, who filed past the town dignitaries. Speeches were made, wreaths were laid and the day was finished with plenty of music and dancing.
|Friday night procession|
|Burning of Judas on Sunday evening|
Originally a pagan tradition, but one that takes place every year here in Ermioni. Young children dress up, students dance, everyone at the end jumps over the burning fire. The girls wore wreaths of flowers in their hair and pulled out their wishes, dreams and fortunes from the mystic Greek urns. Many fortunes were good, as the urns were smashed. Later, students danced around the burning fire. The finale was spectators being brave enough to jump over the burning fire, which was a sign of purification.
At the small mountainous village of Illiokastro, which is 9 kms from Ermioni, the celebration took place and was enjoyed by the local community and visitors from the surrounding areas. After the church service, a procession took place around the quaint old village, which was accompanied by a brass band. The evening continued with drinking and eating in one of the numerous tavernas which line the street.
This 11th C monastery was situated 4.5 kms from Ermioni. On this particular evening, thousands of people descended from all over Greece and bought candles and paid their respects. The street ascending to the monastery was lined with many market stall holders, selling absolutely everything. Food stalls were in abundance and the police were in full forces diverting the coaches and cars. Great atmosphere. The morning after, saw the ceremony of blessing of horses, which apparently goes back hundreds of years. Horse owners from around the region descended upon the monastery, then took their hoses into the large courtyard to be blessed by the visiting priest. Excitingly after the blessings, the horses and riders rode back into Ermioni, which was nice.
During the month of July, there was an annual music festival, which took place over 3 weekends. Performances were by local artists and visiting choirs.
Only in Ermioni and annually on the 8th November, this festival is celebrated. It started with a service at Taxiarches church in the old village of Ermioni. Once mass had finished, a private tribute was paid to the two Mitsas brothers who are situated outside the museum of history and folklore. Following the tribute, which included singing the national anthem, the procession made its way down to the war monument at the Limania harbour, and once the speeches had been concluded by civil and military personnel of Ermioni, made its way back through the old village, to the church of Taxiarches church for a further blessing.