Vrontados: here Easter is a BLAST!
Chios is well known for the magnificent Easter festivities too. The
scenic picture of ship owners’ mansions with exquisite flower garden
designs, peaceful little ports with colourful boats, and picturesque
windmills by the sea, dramatically changes after the Resurrection mass.
On the night of the Holy Saturday the villagers of Vrontádos are ready to set the night on fire! A rocket war breaks
out here, which dates back to the age of the Turkish occupation
(15th-19th centuries) and turns this village into a virtual battlefield.
The conflict is between the Panagoussians (which would be something
like the “Madonnians”), i.e. the parishioners of Panayia in Erithiani
(=Madonna in Erithiani), and the Aghiomarkoussians (Saintmarkians), i.e.
the parishioners of Saint Mark, and both of theirsrockets aim at the
dome and the emblem of the church of theirrivals.
The preparation for this bloodless “war” lasts for months and the
improvised rockets, made of coal, sulphur and nitre, are put on wooden
stands ready for the “gunners of Chios”
to fire them. Teasing and challenging each other alternate with test
shots until the sound of a horn signals “fire”, late at night. And
although “warriors” take a break to let people attend the liturgy of the
Ressurection, they release the storm of fire right after midnight. The
spring night sky lights upas tongues of fire and golden orbits of
rockets speed to their targets in bangs and thunders. The dark of the
night fuses into the red of the cross-fire, and thousands of locals and
visitors marvel at this fascinating and unique-in-the-world sky
The following day, the beautiful village of Vrontádos finds again its
peaceful self. The sticks left from the launched rocketsaround each
church will be counted, and the winner will be finally announced. But
whoever that is, the villagers bury the hatchet until next year’s Easter
Saturday. After all, love and friendship always conquer all!