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Epiphany - Jan 6th

Epiphany is celebrated throughout Greece with the Blessing of the Waters. A cross is thrown into the sea, lake or river and retrieved by swimmers who consider that doing so brings them good luck. In Paleochora, most of the town gathers for church service and after that, follows the procession from the church down to the jetty where the ferry comes in. Here the local priest blesses the water and throws a cross into the sea while the bystanders cheer the brave men who dive for it in the freezing cold water and wish them good fortune for the coming year. If you happen to be in town, don’t miss this, be there by 9.30, get a good spot to see and bring your camera.


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Carnival – Saturday 25th February 2012

Carnival in Paleochora is celebrated with a big parade but in the days immediately before the Carnival, don’t be surprised to see heavily disguised men and women wandering round the streets and cafenions ...it’s all part of the pre Lenten fun!

On Carnival day itself, all the main streets are decorated and in the early evening hours the procession begins. Working to a new theme chosen each year, for weeks beforehand all the local school classes, local groups and societies prepare and decorate floats and make fancy costumes to show off on the big parade. A sight to see! Many cafés and restaurants awake temporarily from their winter hibernation, people come from all over Crete and even from the main land, places are packed, fireworks light the night sky and local TV is ready to roll.

Carnival – Sunday 26th February 2012

Not a riotous as the Carnival itself but the fancy dress remains out for the Sunday evening fireworks party. The location will depend on the weather, and in particular the wind direction, so ask around!

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Clean Monday – Monday 27th February 2012

Clean Monday or Katheri Deftera, 50 days before Easter, marks the first day of Lent (Sarakosti) and it is customary to go out in the country and fly paper kites.
In Paleochora this is a lovely day out. Every one packs a picnic basket and their kite and gathers at the Grameno beaches. Here the Municipality puts on a buffet, music blares from badly adjusted speakers, clowns entertain the kids, people play volley ball, and kites fly higher and higher...  

Every one is welcome, so get your own kite at the local supermarkets or street vendors and mingle. 

Traditional food at this first day of Lent are; White Bean stew, Lupin Beans, served in salty solution as a welcome supply for protein during Lent, Taramasalata (fish roe paste), Scampi, Squid and the sweet bread (Lagana).


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Greek Independence - March 25th 

This day is celebrated all over Greece as the anniversary of the start of the 1821 Greek revolt against 400 years of Ottoman rule, the 25th of March 1821 being the day Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the flag of national rebellion at the monastery of Agia Lavra in the northern Peloponnese. 

Paleochora celebrates this day with a march by schoolchildren through the main streets. All town are in their best clothes and proudly taking pictures and videos of their children marching in the parade. Traditional food for that day: fried Bakaliaro (Cod) and Skordalia (Garlic sauce). There are often displays of traditional music and dance taking place outside the town hall immediately after the parade.

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Easter – Friday 13 April to Sunday 15th April 2012

Easter (PASHA) is the biggest church holiday in Greece. 
On Good Friday, early in the evening, the Epitaph, the bier on which the body of Christ is laid, is taken in solemn procession around the streets of Paleochora before being placed in the main church, the Annunciation, which that morning was decorated for the occasion by the women of the town.

On Saturday, before around midnight, most people go to church to celebrate the resurrection. After midnight they gather on the streets by the main church to share the Easter light, passing the Holy Fire from candle to candle. They then attempt to take the lit candle home in order to bring the holy light into their house, to bless it and bring good fortune the coming year. Shortly after midnight, an effigy of Judas is usually burned on the walls of the Fort; a burning accompanied by fireworks and flares.

On Easter Sunday, as everywhere in the country, everyone enjoys –especially the ones that fasted – the lamb spit roast, with their family in a traditional big family feast.  A number of restaurants and cafés put a lamb on the spit and offer the traditional Easter menu for tourists, visitors and anyone stranded in the village this time of the year away from family.

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NAVAL WEEK – The last week in June 2012 

Naval Week is held every two years and is dedicated to celebrating the Greek Navy and all aspects of Greek maritime activity.

Paleochora usually celebrates with displays of traditional dance and song put on in the area of the ferry jetty. 

The programme is usually arranged at the last minute, so check our town news for updates.

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The 99 Holy Fathers - Azogires - October 6th & 7th

According to legend, around 1300 St John the Hermit and 99 followers travelled from Antalya, in modern Turkey, to Crete preaching the gospel and curing the sick. Arriving in Crete they sought a place to live in solitude and found this in the Caves above Azogires. In the village they build a church where the monastery now stands, below the village in the valley next to an evergreen plane tree. 

The festival of the 99 Holy Fathers is celebrated every year in Azogires commencing on the evening of 6th October with a church service at the church by the monastery and continuing afterwards in the cafenions in the village. A further service is held the following morning, the 7th October.

Residents from the villages around and visitors from all over the world gather to visit the church of the Holy Fathers, to be inspired by the healing power surrounding the location and to share holy bread, food, sweets and wine. 

Everyone is welcome to join.

St John the Hermit - Azogires - 8th October

The church of St John the Hermit in Azogires celebrates his saint’s day on 8th October. The celebrations commence with a morning church service in the tiny church, located behind the Alpha Rooms, followed by an open air feast in the forecourt below the church. All are welcome. 

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OXI day - October 28th

The National Holiday known as OXI Day marks the day in 1940 when the Greek Dictator General Metaxas famously said 'Oxi' or 'No' to the Italian demand for the occupation of Northern Greece. The subsequent defeat of the Italians by the Greek army eventually resulted in the German invasion of Greece. 

In Paleochora, the day is marked by school children and students marching with drums in a parade along the main street, many wearing white and bright blue shirts to recall the colours of the national flag.