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Religious Holidays and Festivals in Patmos

January 1.
New Year's Day, the Saints Day Of Agios Vassilios, celebrated at the Church of Agios Vasilios in Hora. On New Year's Eve.

December 31.
Friends and relatives gather in their homes. They eat, drink and play various games of chance while they wait to rink in the New Year. Just before midnight everyone turns out the lights and the church bells peal. According to a custom peculiar to Patmos, anyone is allowed go into a church and ring the bells. Bengal lights and other fireworks illuminate the scene. The ships in the harbor, the caiques, even the little boats greet the New Year with horns, sirens and bengal lights. Agios Vassilis brings presents to the children and the traditional New Year's cake is set on the table.

The housewife hides a coin in it, and her husband cuts it, first in quarters to form a cross. Then each piece is dedicated in turn to Christ, Agios Vassilis, the house, the husband, the wife and the children. Whoever finds the coin in his piece of cake will be lucky all year. Luck is also brought by the first visitor who sets foot in the house in the New Year ("podarico"). Companies of musicians stroll through the neighborhoods, enter the houses and sing the traditional New Year's carol ("kalanda") to the accompaniment of violins and lutes. The people offer them sweets or money. In Patmos, the New Year's carol is sung both on the morning of New Year's Eve and on the morning of New Year's Day.

January 6.
Epiphany: Mass is read in all the Churches in Skala from 5 pm to 8 pm. Children make the rounds of the houses singing the Epiphany carol about John the Baptist. After mass in the Monastery of St. John, the abbot and monks descend to the Church of Agios Fokas in Skala and from there down to the waterfront. The blessing of the waters is performed from a specially constructed platform. In former times, at the end of the ceremony, the abbot would throw a cross into the water.

Many of the island's young men would then jump into the water and vie to retrieve it. This timeworn custom is kept up by new generations of islanders, but nowadays the cross is tied to a ribbon, by which the priest pulls it out again if it is not retrieved. The abbot rewards the one who brings the cross to him with his blessing and various religious tokens. Crowds of people watch the ceremony, during which the church bells ring joyfully.

January 7.
The Church of St. John the Baptist in Skala holds its Saint's-Day festival.

February 2.
The Hypapante (meeting of the infant Jesus and his mother with Simeon and Anna in the temple) is celebrated in the Church of the Hypapante in Hora)

During the three weeks before the beginning of Lent, people (mainly children) dress up in costumes and visit the homes of friends and acquaintances. On the final Sunday of the Carnival, the townspeople and Patmos cultural organizations participate in the manifestations held in Skala and Kambos. The next day is "Clean Monday": everyone eats Lenten fare, including pickled octopus, the traditional lagana, a bannonck-like flat bread, and halva, a sweet made from crushed sesame seeds and sugar. Paper kites bob in the sky, to mark the beginning of the Lenten season, the 50 or so days before Easter. The kite is a symbol of the soul, purified by fasting, and mounting to the heavens.

March 7.
The anniversary of the union of the Dodecanese with the rest of Greece in 1947 is celebrated with a doxology. In Hora the Mayor makes a speech, and schoolchildren marc in parades in Skala, Hora and Kambos.

March 16.
The anniversary of the death of the Blessed Christodoulos, founder of the Monastery of St. John, is ushered in by a vigil beginning at 7 pm on March 15, ending at 3 am on March 16, and resuming from 8 to 11 am.

March 25.
The Annunciation of the Virgin, is also a Greek national holiday commemorating the rebirth of the Greek nation. A vigil is kept on the night of the 24th and a high mass read on the 25th in the Convent of the Evangelismos and in the Church of the same in Kambos, where there are also festivities.

May 8.
The name-day of St. John the Divine is celebrated in the Cavern of the Apocalypse and in the Monastery of St. John with particular splendor. An all-night vigil begins at 5 pm on May 7 and ends at 6 am the next morning. A vespers service is held at the Baptismal Font on Agios Theologos beach in Skala.

All Saints
is celebrated on the eighth Sunday after Easter at the Apollo Hermitage. There are also festivities in Koumana, followed by much merrymaking.

July 20.
The saints Day of the Prophet Elijah is celebrated at the Profitis Ilias spiritual retreat.

July 27.
Celebration of the Saint's Day of Agios Pantelemion on Hiliomodi, the islet at the mouth of Skala Bay.

August 6.
The feast of the Transfiguration is celebrated in the Church of the same name in Kambos by the abbot of the Monastery of St. John and several monks. Festivities beginning the previous evening feature dancing to music performed by local musicians.

August 15.
The Assumption of the Virgin is a great religious festival through Greece. At 10:30 in the morning a procession sets out from the Church of Megali Panagia and passes through Hora. On the evening of the 14th festivities are held in Kambos at the Church of Panagia of Geranos.

August 23.
The church of Panagia in the Meadow of the Monks celebrates its Saint's Day. Vespers are performed in Koumana and at the Church of Panagia of Gravas. Many Patmians go to the island of Lipsi on the 22nd to celebrate the ninth day after the Assumption there.

September 14.
The church of Stavros in Diakofti holds a festival beginning on the evening of the 13th, featuring music and dancing.

September 26.
The translation of St. John the Evangelist is celebrated in the Monastery and at the Cavern of the Apocalypse.

October 6.
The translation of the relics of St. Thomas.

Mass at the Monastery of St. John begins at 6 am.

October 21.
To commemorate the Translation of the relics of the Blessed Christodoulos from Euboea to Patmos an all-night vigil is held in the Monastery of St. John from 5 pm on the 20th until 6 am on the 21st.

October 28.
'Ohi' Day, a national holiday commemorating the defeat of Mussolini's troops in Albania in 1940. The Greek soldiers saw the Virgin Mary protecting (covering) them during the battle, and that is why 'Ohi' Day is also the Saint's Day of Agia Skepi (by association with the verb 'skepazo' = to cover). Schoolchildren march in a parade.

December 6.
The name-day of St. Nikolaos, patron of sailors. During the festivities at he Church of Agios Nikolaos in Skala his icon is carried in a procession.

December 25.
Christmas: On Christmas Eve the traditional carol is heard once more in every house..."Christ is born today..." In former times, wooden boats, large and small, were decorated instead of Christmas Trees. In Patmos the islanders killed their own chickens and ate chicken soup after mass, which began at 3 am. Nowadays mass begins at 11 pm on Christmas Eve, and ends at 2:30 am.

The traditional chicken soup has been replaced by turkey stuffed with chestnuts, rice and pine nuts. In Patmos, the day after Christmas is the name-day of Maria, in contrast to the rest of Greece, where Marias celebrate on August 15th (Assumption Day) and November 21st (Presentation of the Virgin Mary).

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While following your Biblical tour program in Turkey, you may use our boats to take your group to Patmos Island for a daily trip. By chartering the boat, you may visit this holy island, tour the Monastery of St. John, The Holy Cave, and have a Mass. Private ferryboat charter service for Samos and Patmos Islands, Greece.

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