10 Things To Know About 15 August In Crete Greece

10 Things To Know About 15 August In Crete Greece

10 Things To Know About 15 August In Crete Greece

August 15 is a public holiday in CreteGreece and as The Feast day of Dormition of the Theotokos is one of the most important feast days in the Greek Orthodox as well as Roman Catholic calendars.

At the peak of summer vacation period, we celebrate the Virgin Mary and the country is transformed into one big church festival. Such a great celebration. 

This is a very important day for the Greek Orthodox Church and for the people of Greece, who celebrate the Dormition of the Virgin or Assumption of Mary. It is not regarded as a day of grief, however, but a day of joy and celebration of her divine qualities, as the Church and the people believe that the Mother of Christ did not die, but ascended to Heaven.

1. The Dormition.
The Dekapentavgoustos on the Greek Orthodox calendar celebrates the Feast of Dormition of the Theotokos which marks the falling asleep or “kimisis” of the Virgin Mary. The feast also marks the Assumption of the body of the Theotokos into heaven. It is a public holiday in Greece and is also an important day in the Roman Catholic calendar. On the Julian calendar, it is celebrated on 28 August.

2. Fast and feast.
The feast is preceded by a two-week fast, from 1 to 14 August. It requires an abstention from meat and dairy products, fish, oil, eggs and wine.

For some, the celebrations begin on the eve of the feast (14 August) and reach their peak on the following day. In some parts of Greece the festivities continue to 17 August. Some conclude festivities on 23 August which marks the Feast of the Apodosis (Leavetaking) of the Dormition of Mary.

3. Name Day.
August 15 is a name day for very long list of names including Maria, Mary, Maro, Marios, Mario, Mariori, Marika, Maroula, Maritsa, Margiori, Marigoula, Manio, Marietta, Marousa, Marsia, Marcy. Also celebrating on the day are Despoina, Elona, Gesthimani, Heleiostalakti, Kristalo, Marieta, Mariniki, Mireille, Panagiotis and Panagiota and all variations of that name; as well as Mireille or Mirella, Presveia, Symela, Theotokis and Theotokia.

4. Variations.
In the Peloponesse, women called Maria celebrate their name days on 21 November. In Crete, the Marias who are married celebrate on 15 August while the single Marias celebrate on 21 November.

5. Names associated with the Virgin.
Names associated with the Virgin include Anthoforousa (the Flower-Bearing) Glykofilousa (Sweetly Kissing), Gorgona ( the Mermaid), Zoodotra (the Life Giver), Rodo to Amaranto (Amaranthine Rose). In the Aegean islands she also referred to as Pelagini (Lady of the Sea), Thalassmachousa (the Sea Fighter) Thalassokratousa (the Ruler of the Sea) and Panagia of the Sand.

6. Role of icons.
Many churches in Greece are dedicated to the Virgin Mary. They all house icons of her and several are thought to be the work of Luke the Evangelist who painted icons after he wrote his Gospel. Many of the icons which date back to the early days of Christiany are associated with many legends and beliefs surrounding the Virgin.

7. The Garden of the Virgin Mary, Mount Athos.
There is a tradition that the Virgin Mary and John the Evangelist were not their way to Cyprus when they were blown off course by a storm. Their vessel found refuge near the site of the Monastery of Ivira in present-day Mount Athos. Mary was taken by the wild beauty of the region and asked God to grant her the mountain as a present. A wish that was granted with there words: “Let this place be your lot, your garden and your paradise and a haven for those who seek salvation.”

8. Pilgrimage to Tinos.
The feast day sparks pilgrimages to important churches and monasteries dedicated to the Virgin throughout Greece. Foremost of the sites of pilgrimage is the Megalochare (Blessed Virgin) of Tinos in Cyclades. The importance of the pilgrimage merges Orthodox tradition with Greece’s own history. The icon of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary which was thought to be the work of St Luke the Evangelist, was found in 1823 by a nun, Pelagia, after the Virgin appeared to her three times to reveal to her where the icon was buried.

The church that was built on the site of the discovery was the first public building by the newly independent Greek state.

The pilgrims come to Tinos on 15 August for the famous icon to pass over them

9. Summer city exit.
It is also the day in which many Greeks from the cities and overseas return to their places of origin for the summer holidays. 15 August also represents a reunion of extended families and is often called the Summer or Little Easter.

10. Historic resonances of the day.
It was on 15 August 1940, that an Italian submarine sank the battle cruiser the Elli in the harbour of Tinos – drawing Greece into  the Second World war. In, 717, the second Arab siege of Constantinople began under Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik. It was lifted on the same day a year later. The British mark 15 August, 1945 as Victoria over Japan Day – the day on which Japan announced its surrender. The United States mark 2 September – the day when when Japan formally signed the surrender document. In 1947, India celebrated its independence after 190 years of British rule.

Source: Neos Kosmos 

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