Saint Zacharias Festival in Saria

A small but beautiful festival in the small island of Saria, next to Karpathos. The festival is a celebration of the small, family owned church of Saint Zacharias, on his name day, September 5.
Photography / Text: George Tatakis

This is a small but beautiful festival in the small island of Saria, next to Karpathos. The island belongs to Olympos municipality of Karpathos. 

The festival is a celebration of the small, family owned church of Saint Zacharias, on his name day, September 5. 

The family who owns the church charters a boat to carry the people who will visit the festival from the port of Diafani to the island of Saria. This time, one boat was not enough to carry everyone. I nearly had to stay ashore, but they finally decided to charter a second boat as well. That is how we started our trip to the island. 

We arrived at a beautiful bay of Saria island with turquoise waters and caves all around. A perfect beach to have a swim. Several groups of tourists are getting off board here to enjoy the beach. We, on the other hand had to walk for around half an hour to reach the ancient city of Argos. 

The road takes us through a gorge. A not too difficult route but with some uphill during the second half. I was walking along with father Minas, the priest of Diafani who is responsible to carry the Mass for the festival. Everyone goes on foot, but goods are carried on donkeys.

After reaching the ancient city of Argos, at the top of the hill, father Minas started his way to the church which is another 15-20 minutes walk. This road is much easier to walk. He had to carry the evening Mass. The church hangs on a cliff, overlooking the beach we got ashore. The view is magnificent. 

People start to gather around and the Christ breads are being brought so they can get the father's blessing after the Mass and be shared with everyone to have a bite. 

The Mass is finished at the time the sun sets and everyone takes the way back to Argos to prepare for dinner and music. 

This time the generator was not functioning, so we had to use an oil lamp instead. I actually enjoyed this fact much better, since it was more romantic and felt like we were living on a different era. The cooks had a more difficult time since they had to be using flashlights to see. Cooking was done in a nearby house. 

The tables were set in a small alley with cloth screens set around it to keep away the wind. 

The food was served, goat casserole, and soon after the singing started. As with all Olympian celebrations, they started with table songs and then moved to Mantinades. These are songs with on-the-spot made lyrics, praising the family, the Saint, or remembering passed away relatives and the old glories of the festivals with some nostalgia. 

The celebration starts with nostalgia and many tears with loads of whiskey.

After some time, I went to sleep. I had my sleeping bag set in a nearby alley. I laid down and I could hear the music from a distance. The sky was so dark and the moon still young, which made it too difficult to close your eyes because of the night sky's beauty. 

I opened my eyes again in the early morning. Father Minas was sleeping nearby at a short rooftop. The music was still on and some people were dancing. 

I went and sat nearby the music players. Just in time for coffee. I had my coffee and enjoyed the music and the dancing. I also had some warm goat soup for breakfast.

Most of the people were still asleep in different places around. That was until the sun rose. Beautiful warm colours filled the hill and soon it was too difficult for anyone to sleep because of the bright light. 

Everyone was up washing themselves and having their coffees. 

Probably around 7:30 to 8 in the morning, everyone started their way to the church and the morning Mass. After the Mass, apart from the usual bread, Greek doughnuts (Loukoumades) with honey and Ouzo (alcoholic drink with anise flavour) are served. 

It was now time for lunch. Some more goat casserole. The music started for a second time and now the temperature was too high. Half of the crowd took the way back to the beach to enjoy a nice swim before the boat would come to get us back to Diafani. 

#dance #family #festival #zacharia #rural #sleep over #adventure #saint #camping #boat #island #religion


Saint Zacharias Festival in Saria

Unnamed Road Olimpos
Saria, South Aegean, Greece

Have a coffee

Parthenon - Nikos (Men) Filippakis

Epar.Od. Olimpou-Diafaniou Olimpos
Olimpos, South Aegean, Greece