Greek Customs in August

Dates: In the past, the first twelve days of August were used to predict the weather of the upcoming twelve months. Meteorological phenomena of each day (sun, clouds, rain…) were indicative of those which would follow in the corresponding month. In this way, the weather of August 1st was supposed to correspond to the weather of the coming September; the weather of August 2nd to the weather of the coming October, and so on throughout the year.
The Lykesteia: This is a local custom in the town of Florina, which has as its purpose to introduce the local people of Florina to people who had emigrated away from the town, whether to other parts of Greece or outside the country. It is something of a cultural evening with live music, dancing, and visual arts. In the last few years, not only have locals taken part but tourists as well who come to enjoy the evening.

August 15: In all of Greece there are events and celebrations held on the 15th of the month in recognition of the national holiday, the Dormition of the Virgin (corresponds to the Assumption in the Catholic tradition). The Virgin Mary, perhaps the most holy person of Orthodoxy, is honored in every corner of Greece. In the Church of the Virgin of a Hundred Doors located in the town of Paroikia on the island of Paros, every year on the 15th of August, the holiday is celebrated with a huge devotion and religiosity. Furthermore, thousands of the faithful visit the holy church of the Virgin in Tinos every year around this time. On August 15, at the Church of the Evangelist they celebrate the Dormition of the Virgin, the Anniversary of the torpedoing of the Elli (1940) and Armed Forces Day. Other famous festivals are in honor of the Virgin of Soumela (on Mela Mountain), of the Virgin with the snakes, in Kefallonia – where from the 6th to the 16th of August, small harmless snakes that have a cross on their heads appear around the icons of the churches of two villages. Furthermore, the Virgin is known by her epithets “Great in grace” and “Manifest.” These epithets are often attributed to the appearance of the Virgin in one or another of her icons, and may refer to miracles. The churches of the Virgin Giatrissa, the Virgin Melikarou, the Virgin Phodeliotissa, the Virgin Aneme, and the Virgin Thalassine, some of which owe their location to the fact that an icon of the virgin was found there, have festivals on August 15.

Festival of St. Gerasimus: On August 16th, the day before the festival of St. Gerasimus, there is a great festival in Kefallonia. Hundreds of the faithful go to the church to worship and follow the liturgy which starts from the afternoon of the preceeding day. Some of these wait there all night in a vigil to fulfill their vows. The brave onces visit the ascetic retreat of the saint, which is located in a place that’s quite hard to reach. A few days earlier, on the 11th of August there is a parade of the relics of St. Gerasimus to Argostoli, an event that has been tied closely to the consciousness of the local residents because of the anniversary of the destruction of this city by the earthquake of 1953.

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