Rocket war in Chios
Chios is one of the largest islands in Greece , located in the Northeast Aegean. It is famous for its mastic, medieval villages, beautiful beaches, and fertile plains.
Spring is the best time to get to know Chios. Its Campos, with its imposing mansions and tall battlement walls made of incense stone, flooded with wild flowers and wild tulips (the “lalas”, as the locals call them), seems to be transformed into a painting. Its stone-built villages, its Mastichohoria, become even more charming, adorned with daisies, poppies and anemones playing in pink-purple.
Chios, beyond her absolute beauty, is also famous for producing Mastic, α resin obtained from the mastic tree. It is also known as tears of Chios, being traditionally produced on the island Chios, and, like other natural resins, is produced in “tears” or droplets.
Another reason that Chios is one of the well known islands of Greece is the famous Easter custom called “rocket war.
It takes place in the small village of Vrontados in Chios.This is a spectacular custom-variation of the throwing of fireworks that is customary on the night of Holy Saturday at midnight, as soon as the bells ring the joyous message of the Resurrection.
The custom started in the late 1800s, when Turkey occupied the small island of Chios, which now forms part of Greece, the local Orthodox Christian population wasn’t allowed to celebrate Easter. But, in the small village of Vrontados, two churches came up with a cunning plan to keep the Turkish authorities away while they celebrated Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead: they staged a fake war using cannons and fireworks.
This tradition, born of religious fervor, continues to this day.
Each year, as Easter Sunday looms, the parishes of the Agios Markos and Panagia Erithiani churches, which sit on opposite hills, unleash thousands of homemade firework rockets on each other, creating one of the world’s most surreal pyrotechnic displays.
The night ends with no winners or losers (each parish insists on its own victory) and the two opposing teams renew their date for next year. The rockets used are wooden sticks filled with a mixture that includes nitrous, sulfur and gunpowder, and their preparations begin months before Easter.
In the last decade, the stocks of rockets made are thousands and the spectacle they compose in the spring sky on Easter night is certainly impressive, attracting visitors from all over the world.