Greece rocket war

It’s pure rocket science, and residents of this Greek island village love it.

While church bells ring in Orthodox Easter, thousands of homemade rockets streak across the night sky of Chios as rival Vrontados parishioners target each other’s church towers in a traditional, once-a-year mock war.

Incredibly, severe injuries are rare and dozens of brave souls even attend late-night services inside the churches of Aghios Markos and Panaghia Erithiani, which together with surrounding homes are ringed in defensive veils of chicken wire. Police keep a discreet distance as hundreds of people man batteries of wooden rocket launchers, awaiting the air raid siren that marks the start of hostilities.

Although small firework displays are held at churches around the country at midnight services on Easter Saturday despite official disapproval from Church officials  Vrontados is in a league of its own, drawing spectators from all over Greece and abroad. The custom dates back to the 19thcentury, when the island was under Turkish occupation, but may have older roots.

Preparations last all year, while on the Saturday morning participants parade their hardware through the village in lorries, honking their horns. Easter is the most important part of the Orthodox religious calendar.


 

Follow Petros Giannakouris | Twitter: @PGiannakouris Instagram: @petros_giannakouris

 

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Nat Castañeda is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in Brooklyn, New York. A California native, Castañeda works primarily in video and collage, with an emphasis on tactile intimacy with her materials remaining an important aspect of all her projects. Common issues in Castañeda’s work are the conflating of iconography and pornography, the questioning of traditional gender binaries, and the role of technology within personal narratives. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts and has shown at venues such as El Museo del Barrio and Electronic Arts Intermix. In addition to her art practice, Castañeda currently works at The Associated Press where she leads a team that curates AP's online archive of historic and contemporary photojournalism. Castañeda’s photography has appeared in the New York Times,U.S. News & World Report and USA Today.