A centuries old tradition of the island is the “paniyiri”. Chians have always loved music and dance and that is why each village organizes at least one festival (=paniyiri) in the village square, usually on the day that the church celebrates its name.
The “paniyiri”starts with a service in the church of the village dedicated to the saint that feasts, where a special treatment, in memory of those beloved who aren’t among us anymore, is offered to guests. Then the orchestra is taking places and the journey begins.
That traditional celebration (“paniyiri”) is the best way to find out local customs and to see locals up close. They attract crowds of cheerful islanders as well as many foreigners not only chanting and praying but cooking, eating, drinking and feasting long into the night outside in the picturesque forecourts of the churches or in the villages’ central square.
The musical instruments that were traditionally played at festivals were the violin, the oud, the lute; the clarinet and the bouzouki were later added. The close relationship Chios has with the east is obvious in its music and dances, although music, dancing and festivities were greatly influence by invanders. In many villages, music and dancing lasts two or even three nights. The types of dances that are performed at the festivals may differ from village to village, but you will mainly see the syrto, slow tsiftetelia and kasilama, arapi sousta, and hasaposevika (all of Minor Asia influence) being performed.
Try going to a festival held in one of the smaller picturesque and poorer villages of northern Chios and the massif Amani, where tables are traditionally set for all the visitors, who are served traditionally-made goat stew (katsika kokkinisti) and pilaf (katsikopilafo) that is cooked on a wood fire in huge copper pots.
“Paniyiri” is there to offer you a truly unforgettable experience!
The most famous traditional festivals (“paniyiri”) of Chios are:
- Pr. Elias In kalamoti on July, 20
- Ag. Fotini, in Agia Fotini on August, 12
- Ag. Mama in Afrodisia on September, 2
- Ag. Ermioni in Agia Ermioni on September, 4
Have you ever been in a Chios Paniyiri? What was your impression? Comment below.