Have you ever been in a “panigiri”?
A centuries old tradition of the island are the festivals or “panigiria” organised on the eve of the day a saint is celebrated. They attract crowds of cheerful islanders not only chanting and praying, but cooking, eating, and drinking, feasting long into the night outside in the whitewashed forecourts of the churches. The host of the festival is the “panigiras”, a local who has the honour to carry the icon of the saint to his home for a whole year and bring it back on the day of the festival to be blessed during the liturgy. After the ceremony, then pilgrims sit down around the “tables of love” to taste chickpea soup, olives, meat with tomato sauce and pasta, cod, and drink lots of red wine toasting the “panigiras”. People dance and sing until the early morning hours. The following morning after the mass the next “panigiras” receives the holy icon to bring home.
The most famous “panigiria” of Sifnos are:
- Chrisopigi: In May or June, on the day of Ascension. The island celebrates its patron saint for three days.
- Elisseos: On June 13th in the little church under Agios Nilias
- Taxiarchis: On 12th July in Vathi and at the church of Agios Silvestros (on the way to Cheronisos).
- Agia Marina: On July 17th in Flabouro.
- Profitis Ilias: On July 19th there are many churches that celebrate on the island. The most famous is the Profitis Ilias church in Apsilou.
- Agios Panteleimonas: On July 26th in Cheronisos.
- Panagia: On 14th August in the monasteries of “Panagias to toso nero”, Platanisa and “Panagia tou Iliou”
- Agios Yiannis: On August 28th in Choni, Mavro Chorio, Siderou and in Faros (morning feast).
- Agios Simeon: On August 31st on the mountain above Kamares and in the church of Pantokratoras (on the way to Platys Gialos).
- Taxiarchis: On September 5th in Vathi.
- Agios Sozon: On September 6th
- Birthday of Holy Mary: On September 8th in the monastery of Vrisi in Exabela.
- Holy cross: On September 13th in Faros and in Choni.
- Agios Nikitas: On September 14th in Seladi.
A “panigiri” is an experience you should not miss – a special blending of a religious and social event you will always carry in your heart.