Several regions in Greece have adopted the tradition of releasing hot-air balloons for Easter – a tradition which turns the night into a marvelous, delightful spectacle.
The hot-air balloons are painstakingly constructed weeks before the great night, and almost every house builds its own balloon.
The technique used is specific and comes from long ago (and perhaps far away as well). The hot-air balloons are made of reed and paper, and their size varies; however, it never exceeds two meters. Large balloons require 32 to 36 pieces of paper, whereas the smaller ones need 8 to 18 pieces. A piece of cloth drenched in oil and petrol is used in order to light the fire which sends the balloons rising into the sky.
In Leonidio, Arcadia, during Resurrection Night, their event, called the “Night of the Hot-air Balloons,” a tradition which began in the late nineteenth century, takes place.
The event dates back to local sailors who, as they traveled across the globe, were fascinated by a similar Asian tradition. The sailors brought it back home, and with time it became connected with the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus on the night before Pascha.
As soon as the first “Christos Anesti” (“Christ is Risen”) is heard, churches burn an effigy of Judas and release the hot-air balloons into the sky. The spectacular atmosphere is completed with fireworks, petards and many other colorful (and loud!) explosives.
Flight of 500 Hot-Air Balloons on Easter Sunday Evening, in Agios, Loutra Edipsou
Another place in Greece that keeps the tradition of hot-air balloons alive is Loutra Edipsou. More than 500 hot-air balloons were sent to the sky on a recent Easter Sunday, when the event began at 7:30 PM in Agios’ central square. This gives the always-spectacular sight a different kind of beauty, as the tiny lanterns are silhouetted against the glowing colors of the sunset.