A Crazy Easter Tradition: The Rocket War of Chios (video)

    Locals firing up Easter Rockets in Vrontados, Chios | Credit: ChiosPhotos.com

    On the Greek island of Chios the locals have a tradition to spice things up for Easter. Besides the traditional egg cracking and conventional fireworks, a rocket war takes place between two local churches during the divine liturgy of Holy Saturday night. “Rouketopolemos”(literally Rocket-War) is the name of the traditional event held annually at Easter in the town of Vrontados on the Greek island of Chios.

    Two opposing parishes of the town spend the evening just before Orthodox Easter Sunday firing tens of thousands of homemade rockets at each other’s church — while the more pious among them attend mass inside. The two rival parishes are St. Mark’s and Panaghia Erythiani (“Red Madonna”), the respective churches built on two hilltops about 400 meters away from each other. The objective is to hit the bell tower of the church of the other side. The rockets are wooden sticks loaded with an explosive mixture containing gunpowder and launched from grooved platforms.

    It is estimated that the yearly production of rockets produces some 70 thousand to 80 thousand small missiles.

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