Bonfires are lit on New Year's Eve to welcome the New Year. An ancient Pagan (Dionysian) custom on the shore of a beautiful, serene and at the same time surreal small village.
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.
While waiting for the fire of Achlada to start at midnight, a custom that takes place in many villages around Florina on December 23, the guys we met there told us to go together at the next village, Giourouki, to see the fire there as well. They would start that earlier than Achlada, since that was a smaller village and most of the local people there would visit the big fire of Achlada later.
Children gathered wood and straw balls, they would like to make the fire as big as possible. The biggest of course is always the one in the town of Florina, but them, they want at least to have a bigger fire than the one of the neighboring village of Yiourouki.
You can see the pain in some firewalkers' face, some others show no expression or emotion. This year, there is one girl that will participate in this custom for the first time. After two hurtful tries, she stops, but not because she was hurting as she said but because she felt sad since Saint Konstantin and Saint Helena did not help her, did not blessed her by making her capable of walking on fire.
We understood that Indian Gods can create life and also destroy it, being evil or extremely good at the same time. Suddenly things were making sense for us, we were at home now. Happy Holy !
The famous religious custom of walking on burning coal barefoot. Believers perform a ritual Dionysian dance to get to a state of nirvana before walking on burning coals.
Annual dancing on fire (Anastenaria) taking place in a village nearby Salonica. A very old custom and very famous in Greece. A lot of people visit from Salonica to see the event.