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Customs and traditions on the island of Sifnos

The inhabitants of the island, respecting the customs and traditions, organize feasts in chapels and monasteries throughout the year.

After the vespers, guests are offered food, cooked in traditional fireplaces the so-called “panostries”. Slow baked chickpea stew is the first dish served followed by veal with pasta. Wine flows plenty and fun is accompanied by the traditional «takimi», a pair of instrumentalists with violin and lute while people who attend the feast sing along. Most times the fun lasts until the early hours, with lots of dancing and improvised quatrains, the so-called "poetic". The people who undertake the organization of the feast, the «panigirades», also undertake all the costs of the feast.

Some chapels are easily accessed whilst for some others, access can only be made by trail. Also, there are chapels that can be accessed by the sea with private or fishing boats if however the weather allows it.

Do not loose the opportunity to visit them! You shall live a unique experience!

In Sifnos, tens of feasts take place during the whole year. Every month, in winter or in summer, there is at least one of the 235 country churches or monasteries of the island which celebrates.

The faithful who takes the icon at his house meets his obligations which include looking after the church and maintaining it. Having fulfilled all his obligations the panigiras reaches the zenith of the expression of his gratitude to the Saint by organizing his festival/feast.

On the day of the feast, the panigiras must return the icon to its temple. If the distance between the house of the panigiras and the church is short, the icon shall be transferred by the panigiras himself and the rest of the faithful shall follow him. When they arrive to the church, the vespers shall take place and afterwards food shall be offered on the special "tables of love".

The panigiras is responsible for that part too. The preparation of the food is carried out by the "cooks" and finally the "waiters" shall give the food to the frequenters.

The main dishes are the traditional chick pea soup, olives, and braized meat with potatoes or spaghetti and during fasting, codfish. The wine must be abundant! During dinner the attendants hit their spoons against the table (this is called: "koutaloktipimata") toasting: "here’s to the panigiras"! (in greek: eviva ston panigira).

Thus, the festival (feast) goes on till the morning with dances and singings and the attendants articulating honorary "poems" or "rhymes" for the panigiras, which are often improvised that same moment! During the night supplications continue to take place before the Saint’s icon inside the church. The faithful go from the festival to the church and vice versa. They all must greet "Her grace" or "His grace" before the morning comes, when it is going to leave the church again to be taken at a new panigiras’ house for a year, up to the same day of the following year that it is going to return to the church for a few hours.

The only icon that never leaves the island and which is placed in the bishopric of the village of the panigiras for the whole year, is the icon of "Chrissopigi" the protector of Sifnos!

Some of the feasts that are celebrated during the tourist period are:

  • May or June (movable feast): The feast of the Assumption, when the protector of Sifnos is celebrated. Chrissopigi!
  • 19 of June: The feast of Profitis Helias (many synonymous monasteries in Sifnos celebrate). It is worth going to the feast of Prophitis Helias Apsilos.
  • 26 of July: The feast of Agios Panteleimonas in Cheronissos
  • 14 of August: The feast of Panagia (Virgin Mary) (many synonymous monasteries of Sifnos celebrate). It is worth going to the feast of Panagia "to Toso Nero" (which means: So Much Water)
  • 28 of August: The feast of Agios Ioannis Nisteftis in Faros
  • 31 of August: The feast of Agios Simeon in Kamares
  • 5 of September: The feast of Taxiarhis in Vathi
  • 6 of September: The feast of Agios Sozon
  • 8 of September: The birthday of the Virgin Mary at the Iera Moni of Vryssi in Exabela
  • 13 of September: The feast of Stavros in Faros and in Choni
  • 14 of September: The feast of Agios Nikitas in Seladi

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