Greece is much more than its gorgeous landscapes, islands and beaches in the south. Up north and in the middle, way into continental land, there is another rich and fun Greece waiting to be discovered and enjoyed by people seeking unforgettable experiences.
The Anastenaria, the fire-walking Ritual in Greece
We are talking about a traditional fire-walking festival that takes place in some villages in Northern Greece (Agia Eleni, Langadas, Melike, Mavrolefkes and Kerkine).
Its origins go back to the middle Ages, when Saint Constantine’s church (located in Kosti, nowadays, Bulgaria) caught fire and the villagers could hear, from the outside, the voices of the saints calling for help, from the inside of the flaming church. The story tells that those villagers who had the courage enough to get inside the church and rescue them were unharmed, having the protection of the saints.
On the other hand, there are a certain number of ethnographers (not a few), who argue that this celebration is what remains of ancient practices of cults of Dionysus (the Greek god of the grape harvest).
There are two big festivals, one in January and one in May, dedicated to Saint Constantine and Saint Helen. Each lasts 3 days and involves processions, music and dancing. The end of the festival takes place with a fire-walking ritual in which the participants dance ecstatically for hours, carrying Constantine and Helen’s icons, they then enter the fire, and walk barefoot over the red-hot colas, unharmed by the fire.
It is believed that after some time the persons dancing and chanting may be “seized” by Constantine itself, and enters a trance. After the sacrifice rituals and dancing around the fire for a while, the individual anastenari rides walk and dance over the hot coals guided by the saint.
June 21: European music day
Apart from being the summer solstice – the longest day of the year, in which the sun sets late at night – and the fire-walking Ritual in Greece, June the 21st is also European Μusic Day, and Greece lives it in a unique and joyful way, celebrating it with music festivals and activities all over the territory for three consecutive days.
A broad offer of music festivals, bands, activities, shows on every square and pub of every city across Greece, and most of all, everyone and everywhere just breathing, living and celebrating music. Three days of fun and music, certainly a vacation to remember for the rest of your life.
you might be interested to
discover great attractions in Greece apart the fire-walking ritual in Greece . Check the unique Greek Islands Cultural Travel Guide Zeus Guide or see and extended version of “Best things to do in Greece” at What to do during your Greece Vacation