The dekapentavgoustos, or August 15, festival is celebrated across Greece in honour of the Virgin Mary. The day marks not only a time for religious observance in honour of the final resting of the Virgin Mary, but also a cause for celebration with music dancing, good food and plenty of wine for all!
Ekatontapiliani, Kosmosotira, Sumela, Xozobiotisa and Spiliani are just some of the names that this religious tradition has given to the churches of the Virgin Mary across Greece.
In contrast to the last two weeks of August, when these celebrations take place, the first two weeks of August are devoted to fasting and meditation for the religious, who are preparing for the August 15 celebration in honour of Mary. On the day of dekapentavgoustos thousands of people gather for adoration of the icon of the Virgin Mary and walk in processions in her honour. August 15 is considered the biggest religious holiday of the summer for the Greeks and is celebrated with dozens of festivals and events. The events last from one to three days, with people gathering in village squares and churches to celebrate together. It’s an excellent opportunity for visitors to the region to join in the festivities and experience Greece’s strong religious tradition first-hand.
Dekapentavgoustos Top 3 Events:
On Tinos, located in the Cycladic islands, thousands of faithful gather every year to worship the icon of the Blessed Mary at the Church of the Annunciation. Beginning at the port, worshippers make their way to the church on hand and foot which is found at the top of a steep hill to pay homage to the icon, which is believed to have healing powers. After an all-night mass, many of the devoted followers travel in a procession around town. This pilgrimage to the sanctuary of the Virgin Mary in Tinos is one of the biggest in all of Greece.
The island of Paros also draws thousands of pilgrims due to the famous Church of the Hundred Gates. Following the epitafios or funeral procession, the town hosts jubilant celebrations with live traditional music, dancing and plenty of wine. The picturesque port of Parikia, with dozens of fishing boats and twinkling lights, gives the celebration a unique atmosphere.
On the slopes of Mount Vermio, near the village of Kastania, lies the Sumela Monastery, which serves as a religious marker for the Pontic Greeks who emigrated from their former home in Northern Turkey. On August 15, thousands of followers from all over Greece attend the holy mass here. After the services, the celebration begins with traditional music, traditional Pontic dances and excellent food!
The Feast of the Blessed Virgin
Some of the more popular dekapentavgoustos celebrations in Greece are held at the following churches:
- Agiasotissa of Agiasos on the island of Lesbos
- Church of the Assumption in Olympos on the island of Karpathos
- Monastery of Our Lady Spiliani in Nisyros
- Monastery of the Apocalypse in Patmos
- Monastery of Panagia tou Harou in Lipsi
- Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Thassos
- Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Kaso
- Monastery of the Virgin of Fidos in Markopoulo on the island of Kefalonia
- Chapel of the Virgin Mary in Kato Koufonisia
- Our Lady the Revealed and Our Lady of the Sea in Andros
- Our Lady of Kremasti in Rhodes,
- Our Lady in Skiathos
- Chapel of Our Lady of Kastriani in Tzia
- Our Lady in Serifo
- Our Lady in Filoti in Naxos
- Portaitissa in Astipalaia
- and many more…
Popular festivals celebrating the Virgin Mary also take place on the Greek mainland at churches named in her honour. Some of the most famous include those in Tsepelovo, Timfi, Ioannina, Vista, Arcadia, Vlasti, Arta, Northern Nafpaktos, Volos, Feres of Evros, Siatista etc.
In Attica: The Festival at the Monastery of the Virgin of the Closed Defiles
Another religious celebration takes place at the Monastery of the Virgin of the Closed Defiles in the beautiful forested country side of Northern Fili. This monastery has held an important role since the 12th century, when it functioned as a monastery exclusively for monks. In 1932, however, it became a monastery for women.
The Festival of Vidi in Troezen
In the beautiful area of Troezen, lies the seaside town of Vidi. A mere 3 kilometres from the town of Galatas, this town is home to the Church of the Assumption, which offers a beautiful view of Poros. Every year, the town’s traditional August 15 festival draws visitors not only form the surrounding area, but from all over the world.
There was once an ancient harbour here, which was used in the defence line during the Persian war in 480 B.C. and docked over half of the Greek fleet the day before the historical battle of Salamis.
The Festival at the Monastery of Faneromeni in Salamis
One of the island’s most jubilant festivals takes place at the Monastery of Faneromeni in Salamis between August 19 and 25 of. Hundreds of people come to the island to attend the mass and funeral procession which take place on August 23. The entire town comes together in order to make preparations for the festival: the coast guard assists pilgrims coming to the island while the traffic police keep traffic flowing steadily. Local volunteers help decorate the town and the monastery, and a soup kitchen is set up for the poor and the homeless during the celebration. This teamwork makes the festival run seamlessly and ensures that a good time will be had by all!