Customs & Festivals
The island of Folegandros, due to its rough and infertile soil and due to the fact that it has been deserted for centuries, before the spread of tourism as a means of development and prosperity, has met abandonment since most of the habitants chose to immigrate in order to live a better life. Those that stayed behind made immense efforts to overcome difficulties and survive.
The creation of “themonia” (typically organized and self sufficient agricultural and stock breeding unit) and “xerolithia” (built walls that form wide stairs) helped the inhabitants cultivate the rough land while trying hopelessly to retain the priceless dirt onto the arid rocks. Also it helped stockbreeding to develop more than expected, given the natural impediments.
All these difficulties as well as the impacts from the movement of the exiles contributed in the social development of the island and in the establishment of a deeply religious character of the inhabitants that seem to hold on to their old habits in the course of time and despite others that adjust more easily at the new impacts and needs of the place after the consolidation of Tourism.
Some of the island’s customs tend to disappear but some remain steady and appreciated till this day. One of these is the procession of the icon of Holy Virgin from house to house during the celebration of Easter. Easter at this island is celebrated in a unique way; all the inhabitants open their houses doors to see the procession and to receive the blessing of Holy Virgin, as the procession starts on the Sunday of Easter from the Castle and Hora in a holly spirit, full of songs, wishes, abundant treats and continuous feast with local dances that last for three days, as long as the procession of the icon lasts. On the same night the procession reaches Ano Meria, where it spends the night. On the second day, it gets back to the Castle, and stays all night at the church of Pantanassa. On Tuesday of Easter it heads to Karavostassis, with intermediate stops at Livadi and Petoussis. At Karavostassis, apart from the houses, the icon blesses all the boats of the port. On the same night, the icon returns to the Monastery of Holy Virgin and all celebrations are ended, until next year.
Similar events and festive atmosphere you can find during the celebration of Agios Panteleimonas on July 27, on Sotiras day on August 6 and on August 15, the day that the Assumption of Holy Virgin is celebrated.
A lot of smaller local feasts and improvised celebrations with local musicians are held quite often on the island, so you might get lucky and participate and you will definitely have a very nice time.
On July the island is cheerful thanks to the Summer Festival of Folegandros that includes theatrical shows, projections, concerts with classic and Greek repertoire, that are organized from Hora and Castle to the port of Karavostassis and Ano Meria. At the neoclassic building of the Primary School of Hora a lot and very interesting exhibitions are organized, such as painting, pottery and photography exhibitions under the aegis of the cultural association of the island “Folegandros” that usually last during the entire summer. Also, during the summer, many poetic, philology and musical nights are organized under the moonlight or at the Folklore Museum of Ano Meria.
On August, the Nautical Club of Folegandros organizes swimming and sailing competitions at Karavostassis and Angali.
As we have mentioned over and over again, Folegandros is a rocky island right at the middle of the sea, and its few goods give a better taste in what we are looking for. In Folegandros you should taste “souroto”, which is a spicy soft cheese that assorts salads and pies. Also you should ask for “matsata”, which is hand made pasta served with rooster or rabbit with tomatoes, “kalasouna”, a spicy onion pie as well as the tasty honey pies and pasteli that are offered at weddings and christenings instead of sugar drops, according to tradition.