Tuesday 6 June 2023


The biggest church fiesta on Poros actually takes place not on the island but across on the mainland.  Its the celebration of the Madonna of Mercy,  Agia Eleousa.
Behind Plaka beach is a small church that you're barely aware of except on its fiesta days June 3 and 4.  Everybody, but everybody from Poros, Galatas and surrounding villages visits, usually on the eve of the actual date, to light a candle, listen to a little of the service and then walk up the road to inspect the market stalls.  

Agia Eleousa decked out in its 'Sunday best'
The church is so small that the congragation must stand outside. There's a line to buy candles to light and leave in the containers of sand.  After the candle rite, the faithful approach the decorated icon of the Virgin, cross themselves, kiss the icon and back away.  Some stay to listen to the service before moving on and leaving room for newcomers.

At the finish the Priest hands out small cubes of Holy Bread which you receive and then many kiss his hand.   I have only done this once and I got a strange look from the priest who obviously knew I was a foreigner and probably doubted my faith.  Rightly so.  I grabbed the bread and moved away fast.
Then there are many many loaves of sweet bread which are sliced into big chunks.  This is what I liked, when I still ate bread.  Its sweet and a bit spicy, every loaf different, depending on the housewife or baker.  You take a hunk, or two and wander off  munching contentedly. 

In line for candle lighting

After the formalities its time for shopping therapy.  The road outside is lined with stalls selling underwear, toys, cheap jewellery, knick-knacks and clothes.  The food stalls sell grilled corn, fried dumplings with honey or nutella, and pastelli, bars of sesame seeds and honey.
It's a tradition to buy knickers but I wasn't impressed by them this year.  K bought a few pairs of boxer shorts and we all bought sox.  6 pairs for 6 euros.  

The biggest attraction for the men.
Roast pig.  A whole pig is on the bench and you chose the piece you want which is hacked off and wrapped in grease proof paper to take home.  15 euros a kilo.
These market stalls are getting fewer and fewer.  There used to be at least half a dozen pork sellers but this year it was just this one.  The men in days gone by would spend an hour walking up and down the road, inspecting and discussing the pig situation before deciding which seller to buy from and which piece to have chopped up for them.
This year K was not at all impressed by the roast pork.  First of all it wasn't cooked on the spit but in the oven and there was far too much fat.  He didn't buy any but many did. The seller was a busy pork peddler.

The easiest way to get to the Panagyri, fiesta, is by taxi boat
I hate these little boats.  I have difficulty getting in and out of them without assistance.  Going was ok.  There was a young chap to hold the 'old lady's' hand and help her down.  Coming back there was no help.  I misjudged the height of the step and literally tumbled into the damn boat.  Fortunately I fell 'in'  onto the lino-ed floor and not 'out' into the sea and wasn't hurt.  Well, my pride was but hell, it's not the first time I've fallen in public, though I haven't done it for a long time .  At least now I can get up by myself and don't need a rugby team to grab hold of me and drag me upright.

Getting off the boat
Easy if you're a youngster

Look who we met there
The famous Bitouni sisters
Two of our grand-daughters
We met the other grand-daughter too wandering around the stalls with friends and 20 euros burning in her pocket, but she's camera shy.

K loves occasions like this .  He literally knows everyone and makes slow progress to the church and up the road as he stops every few metres to greet friends, family and acquaintances he hasn't seen since the last fiesta.

For those who really know how to celebrate a fiesta there are chairs and tables set out on the sands of the nearby beach and a live orchestra and singers who belt out traditional eastern Greek sounds till dawn. The taverna sells cans of beer, whiskey, roast pork served on baking paper, Greek salad, tzatziki with plastic knives and forks. Hundreds sit down to listen to the music and dance. I did it once, maybe twice.  You really have to be Greek to enjoy this sort of entertainment.

All a lot of fun for some.  I don't think I'll be going next year.


  1. I'm glad to hear you weren't hurt in your fall! I liked reading about the whole celebration. Why do you think there are fewer people doing the roast pork when the other traditions seem to be carrying on? -Jenn

    1. That is a good question. There are still a lot of farmers around here who have pigs. I know this year there was another and much bigger fiesta on the same date at a big town not far away. Many probably went there where there were more buyers. But also the younger generation doesn't seem to be carrying on this custom.

  2. I have never known anywhere like Poros for celebrating and partying.

    1. Its all over Greece. K complains that on Poros the celebrations are getting fewer and fewer. He gets very envious reading about fiestas in the rest of greece on facebook

  3. Gosh, it seems so long between fiestas! I don't know how you can bear to wait.

    1. Ye, ye ,ye. Want to change places for a while? We've got a birthday party on Thursday and a Baptism on Friday. Maybe after that we will have a bit of peace and quiet.

  4. It is so interesting to read about these local traditions, sounds as if you´re all fiesta´d out though!

    1. Oh boy I am all fiesta'd out! I've managed to avoid a couple of other local ones this winter but summer time is when most of them take place.

  5. A church fiesta must be so much more fun in the summer. Our local really big one was at the start of December - nice lights (really nice lights) but everyone is so wrapped up and ready for home quite early.

    1. This is just the start of the summer fiestas . In the cyclades they seem to be endless. Poros has a few in villages close by. Often it's just too darn to think about going over to the mainland

  6. I would definitely need help on and off the boat.
    I think I’d enjoy it especially if the weather is lovely. I guess I’m just Greek lol

  7. I'm tired even just reading about all that. I used to love such occasions, but these days I prefer to stay at home. However, I doubt if I could have refused the roast pork.