Tradition and local customs
OnFebruary the 1st the feast of Panagia Flevariotissa takes place in the island, a winter meeting point of the residents of Astypalea with traditional dances, food and plenty of wine. On its northern wall, inside a small cave, there is a chapel where according to the tradition an icon of the Virgin Mary was found.
Two days before the Candlemas the islanders are preparing traditional foods (Lamprianou (stuffed lamb), giaprakia, pougkia and lampropites).
The biggest feast of the island is the feast of the Assumption of Mary (Panagia Portaitissa, from 14 to 16 August). On the eve, after the vesper, the feast is occurred in the churchyard and on the day of Assumption, outside the church, islanders celebrate and cook Lamprianou.’
In the 16th of August, “koukania” (a swimming competition), "giaourtotaisma" (blindfolded people try to feed each other yogurt) and "petinos" (band a fake rooster at the edge of a wooden pillar which is smeared with grease and people try to reach first on the cock, while walking on the grease) take place.
On September the 3rd, the procession of the icon and relics of Saint Anthimos starts from Hora and ends in the Municipality and from there in the home "giortasti" with holy water and glorious celebration.
On September the 7th the festival of Virgin of Thomas takes place in the village Vathi, with food, carousal and traditional island dances.
We should also mention the beautiful and picturesque festivals of Panagia Poulariani on September the 7th, Agios Dimitrios and Agios Panteleimon feasts on October the 25thand on July the 26th respectively and the festival of Christ the Savior on 5 of August.
The wedding events starts with the “gamprologia”. In the evening relatives and friends of the groom go to the bride's home. First gets in house the future mother-in-law, accompanied by girls holding candies, and then the groom. The mother-in-law holds a pannikin full of honey that gives the bride. The groom, entering the bride's house, eats a spoon of honey and breaks a pomegranate .Once he sits, the bride’s mother offers him a silk fringed scarf.
Three days before the wedding, women prepare honey desserts and sent them to the groom's house and at the same time they run the island and inform people about the ceremony (kalesmata). Two days before the wedding is the day of the make the bridal bed. Relatives and friends of the couple, but also residents of the island, visit the home of the intending spouses with gifts, “xerotigana” (local dessert) and brittles and throw money and rice on the bridal bed. Also, a baby is rolled across the bed to guarantee fertility. Then, people celebrate until the early hours.
On the wedding day, musicians with local instruments, singing “painemata” on the rhythms of “tourn” (traditional song of Astypalea) for the intending spouses, escort the bride and the groom to the church.After the ceremony, it takes place the “kerasmata” (treats) with sherbet and brittles and a big celebration with food, drinks, dancing and a lot of “mantinades” (serenades) for the couple.