Old Village – St. Maria’s Day Celebration (August 15th)

Each year on August 15th Greeks celebrate “Stis Panayias” (or St. Maria’s Day), which in Catholicism is commonly known as the feast of the Assumption. In Greece this holiday is perhaps the most popular after Easter, as it is universally celebrated across the country. In simple terms, this is a huge party day and night on the island of Alonnisos, and it always attracts throngs of both local people and tourists as well.

 In the early evening, the town council of the island always stages a “mock” wedding that is held in the Old Village. The teenagers who participate in the wedding are dressed in traditional clothing, and follow a time-honored process that involves the wedding party and guests (locals and tourists) weaving through various walkways of the Old Village (see photo to your left) and then ending up at the plateia (town square). Music also is played throughout the event, which further adds to the festive atmosphere.

After the mock wedding concludes, the town council sponsors a massive party in the Old Village that includes a free meal of goat’s meat and spaghetti, and complimentary barrel wine is included as well. As night falls a band begins to perform in the area around the bus top (see photo to your right), and traditional Greek dancing and partying often continues until the wee hours of the morning. To see a brief YouTube video that shows short clips of both the wedding procession through the Old Village and the ensuing party, click here.

If you will be visiting Alonnisos at the time of the St. Maria’s Day celebration, I recommend that you attend these events in the Old Village, as they really are quite fun. Please note that if you are driving a rental car you should plan to arrive in the Old Village several hours before the festivities begin, for as the day wears on it becomes virtually impossible to find a parking space. Your best bet would be to park somewhere in the port town of Patitiri and then take the city bus up to the Old Village. Other options to reach the Village include riding a rental motorbike up there, walking the donkey path from Patitiri, or taking a taxi.

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