All-night dance parties and traditional church services are both in the mix at the midsummer feast of Dormition.
Greece’s mid-August feast feeds both the body and soul
Blending the spiritual with the material, mid-August marks the high point of Greece’s summer season that attracts crowds of city-dwellers back to their ancestral villages.
The August 15 feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary is a major religious event coupled with festivals, known as “panigiria”, that can last more than a day with music, dancing and food, as itinerant traders’ stalls sell anything from toys to clothes.
Greece has other important religious feast days, but August 15 is one of the most intense. There is also a sense that shortly afterwards the summer holidays will end, everyone will return to the cities and the long, hard slog of everyday life will begin. So people seem to celebrate hard enough for the memories to last through the dreary winter months ahead.
Devotees flock to churches or well-known monasteries. On the island of Tinos, a main pilgrimage site, the more determined crawl on their knees to the church in an expression of piety and, often, in hope of a miraculous cure or other divine intercession.