NAME DAYS & FESTIVALS

What is in a name" asked Romeo, well he should have asked a Greek, for in Greece a name says a lot about the person it has been given to. By naming the children after their grandparents, it links them, not only to their family, but to the entire Greek (Orthodox) community as most Greek names refer to a Saint or some Holy quality. Their "Name Day" is celebrated on the day when the Saint they are named after was "born into" the life hereafter.

Festivals again are mainly linked to the Orthodox religion and in many instances name days and festivals coincide. Listed below are the major festivals on the island throughout the summer season and a few of the many name days.

Saint George's Day
APRIL 23rd. On this day there is horse racing in the village of Pyli, a custom which is entrenched in tradition. The horses and riders who ride bare back race up hill , the main village road in Pyli. There's betting that goes on and the stakes are awarded to the winners as well as having an "Easter egg" cracked on it's head! All those with the name George and Georgia celebrate - mainly offering all their visitors dinner and drinks.

May Day
MAY 1st. Celebrated all over Greece. Flowers are picked from gardens, countryside, roadsides, mountains and beach areas? it is a custom to make a colourful wreath with the array of wild flowers that appear at this time of year. You'll see wreaths hanging from front doors and displayed on the front of their cars too. The meaning it has it to get rid of the evil spirits. Many spend the day outdoors with lots of company enjoying a picnic or BBQ.

Fire of St. John
JUNE 24th. Celebrations take place in some areas and bonfires are lit, the flowers from May Day are thrown onto the fire.

Hippocratia
AUGUST. Various cultural events such as concerts and plays are organized. There is also a re-enactment of the swearing of the Hippocratic Oath which is carried out at the Asclepion itself.

Transformation of Christ
AUGUST 6th. On the afternoon of 5th the locals and others that care to join them for the hike up to the top of Mount Dikeos (846m above sea level) to The Chapel of Christ. Celebrations are held the night before, they overnight there before attending a mass service 6th (See " Old christian churches")

The Dominion of the Virgin
AUGUST 15th. A public holiday throughout Greece. This day is very much celebrated on the island of Nissyros (easily accessible from Kos) where many people travel from neighbouring islands to join the celebrations. This day is also the name day for those with the following names, Maria, Despina, Panayota, Panayotis.

Oxi Day
OCTOBER 28th. This day is the anniversary of the Greek defeat of the invading Italian army in 1940 and Metaxs' response to the Italian Ultimatum - "NO" . Parades of school children march the streets, as well as the army, police, firebrigade. Folk dancing goes on in the main square in Kos Town as well as in some of the villages.

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