Assumption - August 15th

On the 15th of August the Greeks celebrate the Virgin Mary

Assumption Festival
Tinos is the very special Aegean island where thousands and thousands of devout pilgrims make their way every summer to pay homage in a large, celebrated gathering called, The Assumption of the Virgin. On the 15th of August, a virtual army of believers descend upon this small, rocky Cycladic isle to receive blessings, make solemn promises or give personal offerings to the Icon of Virgin Mary. Tinos is a spiritual center of modern Greece, where pilgrims gather each August to worship the Virgin Mary. In the early 1800's a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared to one of the local nuns and told her to dig in a particular location for a lost icon of herself. The icon of Virgin Evangelistria was discovered and is housed to this day in the Church of the Virgin. Every year thousands of pilgrims journey to kiss the icon, to ask for healing or in gratitude for miracles received. It is a moving spectacle when local worshippers carry the icon though the streets on Assumption Day-August 15th.  
From the harbor of Tinos, a wide cobbled street leads up to a mound on which the magnificent chruch called, the Church of the Panagia, or Church of the Megalochari. Here, perched on the top, the stately chuch sit imposingly, towering above the whole town and harbour. Built out of marble from quarries at Tinos and Paros, this is the very spot where the miraculous icon of the Panagia (Virgin Mary) was discovered hundreds of years ago.

The miracle-working of the Holy Icon of the Annunciation of Tinos has been known all over the world. Thousands of Christians who come from every part of the world to feel its miraculous influence and help them in the difficult moments of their lives. The impressive church of Megalohari itself, was built after an event in 1822, when a Sister by the name of Pelagia, who was a nun at Moni Kechrovouniou had a vision of Virgin Mary that revealed to her where an icon depicting Mary and an Archangel was to be found. Early the next year, the icon was finally discovered close to the ruins of a byzantine church which had been apparently buried in an underground vault for nearly 850 years. The actual crypt where the icon was found, is now called the Chapel of Evresis (Chapel of discovery). After this, Sister Pelagia herself was canonized and is now called, Agia Pelagia. 

Since the discovery of the icon, the sacred Church of the Megalochari has been internationally recognized as a place of pilgrimage, and also known as a philanthropic organization. During the actual ceremonies, the spiritual emotion and the mystical atmosphere is apparent among the masses of believers when the Great Feast of the Virgin takes place. For believers, it is a moving experience to take part in the gathering of the faithful. Even those who are not Christian and know very little about the workings of the actual Holy Icon find themselves touched by the events. From this experience, many foreigners who visit the island leave with fond memories of the Church of the Holy Virgin, which like a divine crown, adorns and watches over the town. 

On the island Kefalonia (on the Ionian Sea), every year around the midle of August, one can see snakes crawling to a particular church. At the ruins of the old church steeple, in the villages of Markopoulo and Arginia, the miraculous snakes of Virgin Mary start appearing on August 6th. They remain at the church area until the night of August 15th when they disappear. The snakes are completely harmless for visitors. A cross on the head is their characteristic feature. 
The snakes crawl on the icon of the Virgin Mary, the church filled with people and the priest holding the service but the snakes have no fear, they are there around people's feet and looking to crawl on to the icon, as soon as the festivity is over they dissapear and regain their normal behaviour. 
A rather peculiar detail is that they never appear on any other period than between August 6-15th. According to legend, in the 16th century, during a raid from the Pirate Barbarossa, the nuns at the Convent prayed to the Virgin Mary to save them. They were transformed into snakes. Interestingly enough, there were only two times in history that the snakes did not appear: during the German occupation and in 1953, the year of the disastrous earthquake.

Greek Calendar of holidays & festivals 2016


Date Day Holiday
1 Jan Fri New Year's Day
6 Jan Wed Epiphany
14 Mar Mon Orthodox Ash Monday
25 Mar Fri Independence Day
29 Apr Fri Orthodox Good Friday
1 May Sun Labour Day
1 May Sun Orthodox Easter Sunday
2 May Mon Orthodox Easter Monday
3 May Tue Labour Day
(Replacement Day)
19 Jun Sun Orthodox Pentecost
20 Jun Mon Orthodox Whit Monday
15 Aug Mon Assumption Day
28 Oct Fri Ochi Day
25 Dec Sun Christmas Day
26 Dec Mon 2nd Day of Christmas

The festival is the main cultural event during summer. The performances take place in several venues including the historic Atticus Theater. The Theater was built in the 2nd century AD and the Lykavitos Theater overlooking Athens. The highlight of the Festival are the performances of ancient Greek drama taking place in the splendid Epidaurus Theater near Athens, which was built in the 3rd century BC. Other summer festivals take place in the numerous open-air theaters of the Athens metropolitan area featuring concerts, theatrical plays and other performances. The Athens Festival aims at the preservation of the ancient heritage in conjunction with the promotion of Modern Greek achievements and international artistic trends. The Odeon was built in 161 A.D. by Herod Atticus in memory of his wife, Regilla. From June 7th to October 6th Performances start at 21:00 and at 20:30 in September. Every summer, since 1955 at the Herod Atticus Odeon, performances are held for the Athens Festival. Performances are staged from June through September in the ancient open-air theater, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, in Athens(Acropolis).
Mid June-Late August. Various artistic performances are given during the summer season in the open-air theater on Lycabettus (Likavitos) Hill, in Athens. From May to September each year, there are performances of Greek dancing at the open-air theater on Philopappus Hill in Athens, presented by the Dora Stratou song and ballet group, which is well known throughout the world. Performance start at 21:00. The Lycabettus Theatre was erected in 1964. It was first used by the Greek Scene, Anna Synodinou Company. The theatre was restored and opened again in 1977. It is an outdoor amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 4,000, hosting part of the Athens Festival performances.


The Epidaurus Festival inaugurated in 1954.Soon established as a world renowned tradition of ancient Greek drama performance. The ancient theater at Epidaurus with 14,000 seats was built by the architect Polycleitos the Younger in the 3rd century B.C. The festival is held weekends only, from June 26th to August 27th. Performance starts at 21:00. Inagurated in 1954. The ancient theatre, built by Polykleitos the Younger in the 3rd century B.C., seats 14,000 people and is famous for its acoustics and its architectural beauty

Each autumn starts the concert season of the Athens Concert Hall, which is host to the world's greatest performances. These and other indoor concerts cater to a wide range of musical tastes. One cultural center able to house Concerts, Opera and Ballet with famous guest artists from all over the world. Athens boasts a lively theater scene with dozens of theatrical companies showcasing their productions ranging from conventional to avant-garde. Thousands of visitors are also drawn to art exhibitions in the National Gallery and in other venues. In addition, Athens is host to major sporting events such as the Athens Marathon Run, which features the original Marathon-Athens route, the acclaimed Rally Acropolis and sailing regattas taking place in the Saronic Gulf.
As part of the broader program which accompanies the International Trade fair, there is an annual October series of theatrical, musical, ballet and operatic performances, given by Greek and foreign companies, as a revival of the tradition of Byzantine festive events in the capital of Macedonia.
FILM AND SONG FESTIVALAs part of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair in September, a Festival of Greek Popular Song is held in the Palais de Sports which is located inside the grounds of the Fair. As soon as the Fair is over, two interesting festivals of Greek and for eign films are organized. Both events take place in the theater of the Association of Macedonian Studies.

NAUPLIA INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL A festival with renowned classical music performed for one week during the month of June.