The Aegina Fistiki Fest was the dream of a group of people who believed that the pistachio tree could and should get the recognition it deserves for its contribution to Aegina’s development. That dream became reality by a group of volunteers who worked to create the pistachio festival.
Aegina, the pistachio island and first capital of the modern state of Greece, is hosting the sixth annual “Fistiki Festival”.
It is a four-day event, beginning September 18 and running through the 21. It will include cultural, entertaining and educational events, while special emphasis will be given to gastronomy.
The commercial exhibition, set up along the island’s port, is the core of the celebrations. Approximately 60 kiosks will offer local products varying from pistachios and other pistachio-based products, as well as local agricultural products, such as Aeginetean cheese and honey and other traditional goods of Aegina, such as clay objects, kopaneli-laces (hand-woven laces), jewellery and much more.
The program includes art exhibitions, folklore dances, songs, lectures, plays and other performances. At the same time, there will be many creative and interesting demonstrations for children.
Every year, the Fistiki Festival attracts thousands of attendants, who are given the chance to visit the unique archaeological sites and discover the island’s natural beauties.
The origin of the pistachio
The pistachio tree is closely connected with Aegina, but it is not known when exactly it arrived on the island.
Famous German botanist Theodor von Heldriech visited Aegina six times during the 19th century. In his work the “Flora of Aegina” he refers to all the native plants discovered by himself and earlier botanists. He also noted the plants that were cultivated in different areas (vines, olives, cereals, vegetables etc). Still, he doesn’t mention the pistachio tree. However, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t some individual trees in various gardens that could have escaped his notice.
There is a belief that the pistachio tree came to Aegina from Persia in 1867. It is also worth noting that there were some very old trees brought to the Kypraiou estate from Chios towards the end of the 19th century. One of those trees survives today.
Lately, in Aegina’s historical archives, Anna Yiannoulis found a document which is a serious indication that there were fruit-bearing pistachio trees in Aegina in 1896. The document is sent by one Konstantinos Tsoumas to Vasileous Granitsa. Tsoumas states that he delivered 12 ‘okades’ (one oka was 1.282 kilos until the weight unit was discontinued in 1959) of pistachios to Granitsa to sell on his behalf at 4 drachmas an oka. It appears that it was a simple local transaction and the amount of pistachios mentioned could have come from one or two productive trees in a garden.