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.
Spotlight is the blog of AP Images, the world’s largest collection of historical and contemporary photos. AP Images provides instant access to AP’s iconic photos and adds new content every minute of every day from every corner of the world, making it an essential source of photos and graphics for professional image buyers and commercial customers. Whether your needs are for editorial, commercial, or personal use, AP Images has the content and the expert sales team to fulfill your image requirements. Visit apimages.com to learn more.
Written content on this site is not created by the editorial department of AP, unless otherwise noted.
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.