Saints and celebrations

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In Kini there is an annual festival of Agios Petros (Saint Peter) which takes place every year on June 29th on his  Saints Day. St Peter was an Apostle who was a fisherman so it makes sense that a tiny Greek Orthodox Chapel was built for him, perched above the rows of boats to keep a watchful eye on the local fishermen.

It was certainly a hot day and evening for such a festival, the temperature yesterday peaked at around 36c Although we went swimming late yesterday, people stayed on the beach late to watch the festival procession and cool off in the sea. It is forecast to be 44c in Athens this weekend – impossible to imagine but this heatwave is seeing some of the highest temps in Greece for over 10 years. I have to be thankful that we are luckier here in the islands, but this heat is really unusual. Even the garden is melting, tomatoes wilt in the sun and I have seen locals laying sheets out to shade their vegetables from the heat!  We have had a few internet outages and the power also went off the other night, a click and the air-con went off which prompted me to wander outside to see utter darkness across the hills. But wow the star-lit sky looked incredible. Everyone seems to be blaming these powercuts on the humidity and heat, so fingers crossed they don’t continue.

Yesterday’s event started at a stiflingly hot 7pm with the Orthodox service in the Chapel. I’m sure less than 20 people can actually fit inside, so many people gathered outside and on the steps below fanning themselves and cramming into areas of shade. The harbour had been decorated with bunting, flags, tables and chairs laid out while the band was setting up. After the ceremony, the Orthodox Priest blesses the icon of St Peter and it is walked in a procession down the hill led by local dignitaries and some of the children we recognised from the village. After it reaches the port the fun really started, when the Priest and his helpers carry the icon onto a decorated fishing boat and sail around the bay to bless the waters. One boat led with the revered icon and another six or so decorated fishing boats followed until there was a little flotilla of vessels circling the bay, they were followed by youngsters in little sail boats from a local sailing club. Flares were set off and whistles blowed in celebration. I captured a few pics of the event below.

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After the blessing and serious bit, it was time for the Greek feasting and frivolity. If one thing is for sure, it is that locals and visitors alike love to share in the jubilant dancing and feasting that comes with Greek village traditions. As the sun set over the bay, the temperature cooled slightly, the grills fired up cooking sardines and souvlaki, stalls selling Loukamades (deep fried donuts), wine and beers flowed. There was a live band, fireworks and a display of traditional dancing from the local cultural organisation.

It seemed like everyone came down to see what was happening, regardless of faith,  to meet people they know and catch up. Local families came to celebrate and enjoy the feast, while tourists wandered through the crowds to soak up the culture,from babies to the elderly, these sorts of events bring everyone together, and this was especially true with the dancing that went on late. The music just brought everyone up to dance- holding hands, learning the steps, from teenagers to the older generation, who I must say really do know how to move! I even was bravely coaxed into joining in, which was so much fun, even though the steps are always confusing.

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Plus, I finally discovered that everyone DOES know all the words to Markos Vamvakaris’s classic “Frankosyriani“; the love song was sang by an older man who got up from the crowd, everyone joined in and a few older dancers struck out the leg-slapping, slow floor sweeping moves of the Rembetiko masters. We snuck away just before 1am, sweat glistening on our faces and mosquito bites on our legs. Still the music was nowhere near stopping and people still had energy to dance wildly into the hot night.

I hope Agios Petros was impressed.

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