All Festivals cancelled in Ermioni

One can reflect back on the previous years and realise that it has been a very difficult time for all people living in Greece, the mainland and the islands. The whole country had been affected by the economic recession crisis and the question was "when will it all end?"  The reports sent out at the time throughout the world suggested that the whole of Greece was at a standstill, but this was far from the truth.  But this damaging effect on the country meant that it would take many years to boost consumer confidence.  Just as the financial crisis situation was making a recovery throughout the country, the global Covid-19 pandemic hit Greece, Europe and the whole world.  The Greek Government acted quickly in cancelling all festivals and sporting events, affecting the Carnival season and the whole celebration of the Greek Orthodox Easter, as churches were closed and people were told to 'stay-at-home'. 

What about tourism?  'A Global Brand' - 'A Timeless Destination' is how Greece has been described. Government figures for last year have implied that there was a 'record number of tourists to Greece' and reports showed that tourism appeared to have been on the increase, particulary to the main commercial islands.  Obviously, this has all changed with the global Covid-19 virus.  However, the country is planning and gearing up for 're-opening' its Summer tourist season in June, with strict controls.   

Real Estate has continued to see a steady interest from potential foreign investors. New, comprehensive legislation is under consultation governing the construction of holiday homes.  Experts estimate that more than 1 million Europeans would consider a second 'holiday' home in Greece.  Throughout Greece, investors will find a wide spectrum of opportunities, a welcome environment for new investment.  With ESPA/EU government funding being made available for 'investments in tourism', to underdeveloped coastal areas as Ermioni, it makes buying properties affordable and attractive.  Also with 5-year residency permits being offered for non-EU members, for a minimum spend of 250.000 Euros for real estate properties, it has increased interest in this region.  There are further reports that Thematic Tourism and Eco Tourism are on the increase, which is giving the potential investor many opportunities to take advantage of government funding for investing in tourism.




EPIPHANY - 6th January - Generally, the day started with early morning mass in the old village of Ermioni.  From the church, a procession took place where all the people congregated at the harbour front.  The priests blessed the sea, followed by a wooden cross being thrown into the sea, together with an icon. The tradition is that young men who are destined for their forthcoming military service dress the boats, and the night before the Yala-Yala, are heard around the village, singing and drinking lots of Brandy and other strong 'shots', which will keep them warm when they dive into the cold sea.  Once the relics are thrown into the sea, all the young men dive in, and the one that retrieves one of the relics is blessed with 12 months of good fortune.  After this blessing and ritual, the Mayor of the region and other civic digniteries go back to the town hall for further blessings, and the slicing of the traditional Epiphany cake.

CARNIVAL CELEBRATIONS - The coastal town of Porto Heli now holds the Ermionida Regional Carnival, as Ermioni had to cancel their annual Carnivals due to the economic crisis. Ermioni is only a small working town, and used to host its Carnival with different annual themes on a smaller scale, mainly for students and children.  Ermioni now holds outdoor parties with disco music with the whole local community joining in the spirit of dancing and partying, as carnival time is for masquerade parties, parades, feasts and fun.  Although most carnival related events are historically connected with the ancient worship of the Greek god of wine and intoxication, Dionysus, masquerades and carnivals became popular throughout Greece during the Venetian period.  All the feasting and drinking ends with the beginning of the 'Great Lent'.
CLEAN MONDAYClean Monday or Kathari Deftera is referred to as Ash or Shrove Monday.  This day marks 40 days before Easter and the first day of the 'Great Lent'.  The top of Pronos Hill is where all the activity took place.  A great place to fly kites from, because of the strong winds.  Both children and adults alike, showed off their skills in flying their kites.  Certain years saw free food and wine being served, with traditional folk music and dancing by the local community.
INDEPENDENCE DAY - 25th March - A major national holiday, which brought many people to Ermioni. This day celebrates the start of the Hellenic rebellion against the Ottoman Turks in 1821, who had occupied the country for nearly 400 years. Church services started the day, with a procession that took the community and visiting people down to the harbour front, but en-route a tribute was paid at the Museum memorial.  At the Limani war memorial, the main parade took place by children and students, many dressed in national costumes, who marched past the town dignitaries. Speeches were made, wreaths were laid and the day finished with traditional music and folk dancing.
GREEK ORTHODOX EASTER - Effectively it is a truly magical experience to have the opportunity to participate in this religious occasion. Here in this small charming town of Ermioni, as throughout the whole of Greece, the main event is over a 5-day period.  Holy Thursday, Good Friday morning, the procession on Friday evening, fireworks at midnight on Saturday, then the ultimate of the re-enactment of the 'Burning of Judas' on Sunday evening, whereby the harbour front is packed with visitors and the local community.  Occasionally, music and dancing takes place, which is then followed by a huge firework display.  Considering Ermioni is only a small working town, it certainly does deliver some spectacular events.  Easter Monday is a day of rest and relaxation for the whole family.
KLINODAS FESTIVAL (Festival of St John) - 23rd JuneOriginally a pagan tradition, but one that takes place every year here in Ermioni.  Young children dress up, students dance, everyone at the end jumps over the burning fire. The girls wore wreaths of flowers in their hair and pulled out their wishes, dreams and fortunes from the mystic Greek urns.  Many fortunes were proved to be good, as the urns were smashed in recognision of the good omens.   Later, the older boys and girls dance around the central burning fire.  The finale was for all participants and spectators who were brave enough to jump over the burning fire, which derived from an ancient form of purification ceremony. 
FESTIVAL OF St PETER & St PAUL - 28th June - At the small mountain village of Illiokastro, which is 9 kms from Ermioni, the celebration took place and was enjoyed by the local community and visitors from the surrounding areas.  The festival commenced with a church service in the village church of St Peter and St Paul, with many guest priests present.  After the service, a religious procession took place around the quaint old village, which was accompanied by a brass band and most of the villagers.  The evening continued into the early hours of the morning with local villagers drinking, eating and singing in the numerous tavernas which line both sides of the village main street. 

AGIOI ANARGYROI FESTIVAL - 30th June - This 11th Cen. monastery is situated 4.5 kms from Ermioni.  On this particular evening, thousands of people descended from all over Greece and bought candles and paid their respects. The street ascending to the monastery was lined with many market stall holders, selling absolutely everything.  Food stalls were in abundance and the police were in full force directing all the coaches and cars.  Great atmosphere.  The morning after, saw the ceremony of 'blessing of horses', which apparently goes back hundreds of years.  Horse owners from around the region arrive at the monastery, to have their hoses blessed by the visiting priests. 

FESTIVAL OF PANAGHIA - 14/15 AugustThe largest celebration in Greece to the Holy Virgin is the Dormition, or Assumption.  In Ermioni there was a church named Panaghia, so this annual August festival had an extra special meaning, and many people from different parts of Greece came to Ermioni to celebrate.  The mass started on the 14th August at 19:00, followed by a candle-lit procession, that went down to the Limani harbour front around 21:30.  Upon the return of the procession to the church, all parishoners passed under the floral epitaphios at the entrance doorway, where a blessing was given by the priests, followed by the distribution of blessed bread to the faithful.
POMEGRANATE FESTIVAL - 24th/25th October -  Is held over the weekend, but Sunday was the best as the Limani port area was turned into a display of fine foods and drinks made with pomegranates and many home-made fine crafts and gifts presented by local craftsmen.  The Limani main road was closed to traffic allowing people to wander around the various stalls set out along the road, giving the feel of a small colourful carnival.  Speeches were made describing the history and beneficial properties of this ancient fruit.  It was a special day for the community of Ermioni, as this year's festival was much better than previous years, with music and folk dancing included as a finale.
'OHI' DAY - 28th October - This holiday is celebrated throughout the whole of Greece.  The day is remembered for General Ioannis Metaxas' strong reply of 'OHI' (Oxi meaning No) to Mussolini's request to allow Italian troops to come into Greece at the beginning of World War II.  However, Mussolini's Italian forces did invade Greece, but were driven back into Albania by a much smaller Greek army.  In Ermioni, after the morning mass, there was a procession to the war monument.  After a brief blessing, wreaths were laid and speeches were given by representatives.  To conclude, school children and students marched past the Ermioni civic dignitaires who lined the Limani harbour side. 
TAXIARCHES DAY - 8th November - This annual festival is celebrated only in Ermioni on this day.  It started with a service at the Byzantine Taxiarches (Archangels) church in the old village of Ermioni. Once mass had finished, a private tribute was paid to the two Mitsas brothers who are situated outside the museum of history and folklore.  Following the tribute, which included the national anthem, the procession made its way down to the war monument at the Limania harbour.  Once the speeches had been concluded by civil and military personnel of Ermioni, the procession made its way back through the old village, back to the Taxiarches church for a further blessing.