Fires of Achlada

The fires of Christmas is an ancient custom that is very widespread in the villages around Florina in Greece. Large bonfires are being set in central squares and each village tries to make a bigger and better fire than their neighbors.
Photography / Text: George Tatakis

The fires of Christmas is an ancient custom that is very widespread in the villages around Florina in Greece. Large bonfires are being set in central squares and each village tries to make a bigger and better fire than their neighbors. 

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis

The initial idea was to go to the fires of Florina and make images, but I always like to find more surreal places that are less crowded and maybe more original. We set to travel towards some villages that we saw in the map were near the borders with FYROM. We liked the scenery while travelling to the village of Achlada, which at times was surreal enough for me. 

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis

We were lucky enough to spot the wooden construction set on the square of Achlada, so we stopped the car to ask when they were going to light it. A group of children had prepared the place and set the construction to be set on fire. The chief of the gang was Dimitris.

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis

We had fun with the children and they even gave us a tour around the village. 

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis

A small shack had been set up nearby the woods by the children with any materials they could find. Nylon, old mattresses and plywood. 

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis

The fire was due to start at midnight and everyone was anxious, especially the children. People had gathered around a fire drinking wine and eating local delicacies, such as roast sausages. Soon, it was midnight and the fire was started. 

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis

Everyone sat around the fire and had fun until the fire started to go off. Some of the people would go to the local bar and have a few more drinks. I had to go to sleep as I had a very early start the next morning. 

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis

Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada - Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
Fires of Achlada
Greece. Western Macedonia. Florina. © George Tatakis
#christmas #new year #ancient #fire #pagan #dionysian #florina #achlada

Location

Fires of Achlada

Epar.Od. Papagiannis - Achlada Meliti
Florina, Western Macedonia, Greece