Rus Articles Journal

The Greek traditions or Why for Easter guns shoot?

pass celebration of Easter In Greece is very noisy and is cheerful. Along with a liturgy and religious procession, in Good Friday Greeks burn down Judas`s effigy on squares and blow up petards during the next three days. The more loudly, the more cheerfully. But all other compatriots were surpassed by inhabitants of the Greek island of Chios .

In the city of Vrondados parishioners of two churches, Saint Mark and the Virgin Eritanis, during a midnight mass arrange “war of rockets“ by means of festive artillery - Rouketopolemos. A show so fantastic and fascinating that thousands of tourists gather on the island only for the sake of an admiring colourful fireworks.

Saint Mark`s church was constructed in the 16th century. It is known that the Turkish authorities managing at that time in Greece allowed construction of Orthodox churches, hoping for cooperation of Church. In 1822 during big Chian slaughter as historians called drama events of those of years, Turks strongly damaged the building, trying to reach to taken cover in inhabitants. In 1845 the temple was reconstructed. But as a result of an earthquake of 1881 - again it is destroyed. In 1885 its reconstruction which came to the end four years later began. In 1949 the significant damage was caused to a dome of church: it was necessary to build anew.

Church of the Virgin Eritanis received the name from the neighboring district of Eritiani. It is considered the oldest temple on the island of Chios (exact date of construction is unknown). At the temple there was a monastery where the homeless and patients found a shelter. In 1822 the church was burned by Turks. Only the few parishioners managed to escape on the neighboring islands and Peloponnese. The escaped residents of the town Vrondados restored church in 1840. Everything began

in the middle of the XIX century. To whom the “light“ thought for the first time came to mind to arrange a noisy and dangerous cannonade, there is no mention. But islanders with enthusiasm supported her, having dragged two guns posted from the ship and having established them near the churches located in kilometer from each other. It would seem that else it is necessary to Greeks, it is so much years waging war against Turks how the world? Here not.

Shot at an initial plan powder kernels, trying to beat out a blast wave … flew down in windows of opposite church. A little later a target was the pebble yard before the temple which was required to be damaged. Entertainment was very dangerous to participants, so instead of kernels began to use pebble which shot in the direction of each other. So proceeded annually within several years until in 1889 - m the Turks who were still occupying the island confiscated tools, being afraid of the armed opponent.

Even after this measure Greeks did not calm down. It was required to think up something, as would amuse the people and did not give a reason for concern to the Turkish authorities. National handymen made special shells (rockets), and “wars“ continued. First missiles were launched from roofs of churches, but after several unpleasant incidents “artillery calculations“ moved to the next field.

The purpose of the missiles launched by parishioners of church of the Virgin Eritanis is the dome of church of Saint Mark and the image of a lion - a symbol of this Saint. And “svyatomarkovets“ try to get in hours of the opposite temple. Who will put the greatest damages, that also becomes a winner. All other part of the building was protected wooden boards, and with 50 - x years of the last century - special marble screens.

From the point of view of common sense, such annual firing of temples looks very strange and that there, blasphemously. But Greeks perceive the traditions differently - as an excess occasion to have fun and start up money for wind. Certainly, similar entertainments are illegal, but the authorities indulgently treat entertainments of the fellow countrymen, especially, the show of the flying fires brings quite good money in local treasury from - for flow of gapers.

Therefore in recent years similar fireworks are more likely maintenance of long traditions and a way of involvement of tourists. Shoot generally with the purpose to arrange colourful representation and to do more noise. Though inhabitants claim: such “fighting“ actions adjust them on a festive harmony.

In order to avoid serious incidents of the house cover with special grids, and inform people on the beginning of fireworks by a siren and warn to steer clear of the place of “rocket attack“. And if the couple of fences lights up, so will write off for accident and the damage will be covered with an insurance.

Only twice in the history such fireworks were officially forbidden: during Hitlerite occupation in 1941-1944 and boards of junta of “black colonels“ in 1967-1974. However, despite threats from the authorities, islanders continued to make self-made shells and to arrange fiery fights.

Preparation for celebration begins with summer when are accepted to production of rockets and formation of the “fighting“ groups consisting of 3 - 5 young people. Everyone “fighting calculation“ has own name, for example, Dedal, Perseus, the Cobra and others. So, half a year “opponents“ work on creation of fighting charges which is as a result from 25 000 to 60 000 pieces. Each rocket consists of two main parts: cases and “stuffings“. The case is manufactured of dense paper by means of glue and filled with mix of chemicals which proportions are kept a secret.

The final stage of preparation occur on the Holy Saturday: the “batteries“ executed from sheets of a tile are installed on positions. The tradition of comic squabble between “enemies“ is especially important.

Festive action begins with fancy-dress parade when astride a horse and under the Greek flag on the square Saint Mark - the patron of one of churches drives. Behind it the soldiers bearing on rocket shoulders stride. This ritual was resumed in 2002 after a long break for theatricality giving. The audience settles down on hill slopes the Epos and watches firefight from safe distance.

After nightfall begin trial starts of shells for correction of an inclination of “fighting tools“. Gradually intensity of shots increases. Then on a whistle firing stops that parishioners could take part in easter church service.

With the blow of a bell announcing the termination of a festive mass there comes the holiday culmination: hundreds of rockets soar up into the sky, leaving color fiery tails and lighting space. Air is filled with whistle and a roar, mixing up with enthusiastic shouts of the impressed audience.

Fireworks last minutes 10 - 15. Next day teams of “opponents“ check the number of hits, gravity of the damages put on the eve of their rockets and try to come to the agreement on award of a victory. Usually these comic disputes come to an end with a draw then participants shake hands each other, exchange jokes and conclude a truce till next year.