Apr 26, 2011

Nikos Deja Vu - Rouketopolemos: An amazing Easter Tradition - Chios Island, Greece

Greek Orthodox Easter
A Tradition Event

O Rouketopolemos
The Rocket War

Rouketopolemos (Greek Ρουκετοπόλεμος, literally Rocket-War) is the name of a local traditional event held annually at the Greek Orthodox Easter in the city of Vrontados (Βροντάδος) on the Greek island of Chios.
As a variation of the Greek habit of throwing fireworks during the celebration of the service at midnight before Easter Sunday, two rival church congregations in the town perform an Rocket War by firing thousands of rockets across the town, with the objective of hitting the bell tower of the church of the other side.

It is difficult to know how and when this tradition started in Vrontados. Today there are many different versions of the story. I will tell you two of them.

The first version tells a story that this comes from the 19th century, when the Ottoman occupiers confiscated the canon over fear they would be used in a uprising. So locals resorted to fire rockets instead. This became the traditional annual Rocket War.

The second story states that this tradition was born during the Ottoman occupation. People from the island were prohibited to celebrate Easter the way they were used to. The people from the churches of San Maria and San Marco decided to have a fake war with rockets to keep the Ottomans away. Indeed, the Ottomans were frightened by the sudden violence. They kept a safe distance while the rockets were fired. In the meantime, the communities could celebrate Jesus’ resurrection in the churches.

The Videos:

Watch this video below about a unique fireworks celebration in Greece. It's called the rocket war of Vrondados and the objective of the battle is to hit the bell tower of the other side's church, where mass takes place despite the barrage outside. On the eve of Easter Sunday two rival orthodox churches in the city of Vrondados put each other in the firing line of thousands of firework-like rockets. See how fireworks and model rockets work in this news video!

And finally the big celebration party!!!

Nikos Deja Vu