Saint Demetrios day in Mytilene island

An old custom in the beautiful island of Mytilene. A bull is taken to the church and then killed. His meat is offered to all participants.
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

Travelling for 12 hours by boat from Pireaus to Mytilene port.

At the port there was a taxi waiting for me, it was paid by the local association in order to take me to the village, 5 km away. They have also booked a room for me, for 4 nights. After I settled down, I went out looking for some "tsipouro" to a local tavern or coffee shop. I met with nice people and I do not even remember how many glasses of "tsipouro" they offered me that night. I just remember that the next day I could not put myself together! I knew that the bull was to be brought at the center of the village at about 2 PM and at that time I was still in bed trying to wake up. I forced myself to get out of the bed, after all I was there for that specific reason. I had to empty my stomach, that was the only way I could move at that time!

As soon as I saw the bull everything came back to their right place. He was HUGE! He was tied in a post. His struggle to escape led to his bleeding. Blood smell made the bull even more angry.

The custom says that you should wear a hoop of flowers around the head of the bull and take him to church. The time I was there, the bull was so strong that the people were scared to take him to church walking, they were afraid they could not hold him and an accident would be very probable. They tied him behind a truck in order to lead him to the church where he would kneel and grovel the Saint. Afterwards they kill him and cook him in order to offer his meat to the believers.

The day of the custom all youngsters of the region are gathered with their horses in the village's football field to participate in horse riding games and beauty contests. 

On the 28th of October, greek national holiday, there is no public transportation available. That meant that I had one more day to see the city of Mitilini.

#slaughter #bull #animal #church #religion


Saint Demetrios day in Mytilene island

Unnamed Road Moria
Mytilene, North Aegean, Greece