Feast of St. George at Arachova

Arachova is a very famous winter destination in Greece, because it combines the ski resort of Parnassus, along with the ancient city of Delphi. Every year, Saint George name day is celebrated and has a particular interest
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

Two hour drive away from Athens takes me to a place where I could see a magnificent view of Arachova.

The church of Saint George is celebrating today so it is decorated with flags. The church lies at the topmost part of the town. I had to climb 100 steps that connect the church to the center of the town. 

In the evening and people start to gather around to attend the Evening Mass. After that, a litany of the Icon takes place inside the town. Many of the people wear traditional uniforms. The litany started after nightfall. Following the litany gave me a good chance to see the town. Everyone stands at their doorsteps to greet the Icon passing through their doors. Many tourists have also come to attend. After all, Arachova is a place where you can visit both the ski resort of Parnassus and the ancient city of Delphi. 

After the litany has ended I went to the car to take a nap. I was worried that due to the high altitude the night might be too cold, but I have provisioned and got my sleeping bag along with warm clothes. 

I woke up at the first light of the day. I always do that when I sleep in the car, because no matter how much I need more sleep, the light of the day gets in my eyes. I try to find a spring to wash my hair and brush my teeth. There are many springs around but the problem is that the water is freezing. 

I went to the church for the Morning Mass. I lit a candle and realized that not many people had arrived yet. I visited a cafe opposite the church to have a hot coffee. At one end of the cafe there was a large fire. I was told there that neighbors would roast their lambs together, over common fire. The fires are being lit everywhere around the town which, if seen from above looked as if it had been set on fire.

Twelve lambs have been put over fire. Everyone attends to his own lamb. The spit is operated by hand. Someone had to go home to get some more wine and fry some 'mezes' (treats for everyone to share) so he swapped his place with mine over the spit. 

I had so much to eat and drink by noon, when the lambs should have been prepared, that I don't remember much more. I remember though that the local musicians came over to play their clarinets and violins. After church everyone went to their homes to eat and the visitors went on partying until late at night around the local joints. 

During the last days of the celebration, there are many sport contests taking place which are very interesting. They take place at the church yard and consist of long jump, high jump, shot put, stone lifting. Many of the contestants take part in these wearing the traditional uniforms. The winner along with two runner ups get an alive lamb each as a prize. 

A race will also take place uphill. The contestants run 100m uphill with big inclination dressed in their traditional uniforms. The winner in this one also gets a lamb.

I had to spend four nights in the car but it was well worth it. 

#celebration #music #drinking #costumes #george #name day #sport #race #lambs #spit #roast


Feast of St. George at Arachova

ΕΟ Λιβαδειάς Άμφισσας 41, Αράχοβα 320 04, Ελλάδα
Arachova, Central Greece, Greece