Almost every major religious celebration is accompanied by a feast - Prophet Elias (July 19), Saint Panteleimon (26/7), Metamorphosis of the Savior (5/8), Assumption of the Virgin (14-15 / 8), John the Baptist (28/8), Virgin Mary of Poulariani (7/9). And every religious feast is followed by a folk festival in the courtyard of the church, where, after the evening service, the festival begins with traditional music, plenty of food made by the islanders and dancing until the next morning.
The biggest feast is, of course, on the 15th of August. The celebrations are centred around the Panagia Portaitissa church, and everyone who has left Astypalea and settled elsewhere does everything they can to return to the island for the festival. Part of the festivities are the traditional competitive games, the “koukania” for children of all ages. The feast of Panagia Flevariotissa, which is the only festival that takes place in winter (1/2), is particularly important to the islanders. The patron saint of the island is Saint Anthimos, and the villagers carry an icon of the saint to Chora on September 3rd.
Another event where the island’s traditions and local customs take centre stage is a traditional Astypalea wedding. Now, as in the olden days, weddings last for three days, starting with the decoration of the matrimonial bed, then hand-delivered invitations, throwing grains of rice at the couple for good luck, fertility and abundance and a whole host of other customs whose origin is lost in the depths of time. A huge number symbols of the islanders’ religious and other beliefs have survived to this day in a clear indication of the continuity of life over the years in Astypalea.