ORTHODOX TRADITION »  RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS AND IMPORTANT HOLIDAYS

Significant Holidays and Feasts in Cephalonia

There are two feasts in honor of St. Vasilios on January 1st; one in St. Vasilios Church in Kerameies and another at Koronato Convent in Lixouri. The Metropolitan officiates at the Vespers the previous night and the ceremony of cutting the "Vasilopita", in the presence of officials and representatives of the Vallianion Foundation. A vigil in honor of the Saint is held at Koronato Convent on the eve of the holiday. Divine Liturgy is performed in both churches on St. Vasilios Day.

The celebrations on Epiphany are indeed grand and they center around the Church of Theotokos Sissiotissa by the DeBosset Bridge in Argostoli. The Metropolitan officiates in the blessing of the water in the church which is followed by the dipping of the Holy Cross from the Bridge into Argostoli Bay. The event is attended by island officials. The ceremeny is repeated from the ferry boat in Lixouri harbor in the presence of the Palliki congregation. The ceremonies close with the blessing of the waters of the well in Lixouri Square.

St. Athanasios and St. Cyrillus Day on January 18th are celebrated in the Church in their honor in the village of Agia Irini.

St. Efthimios Day on January 20th is celebrated in Havriata.

St. Gregorios Theologos is celebrated on January 25th in the church in his honor in Platies.
In February, Ypapanti Day is celebrated with a grand feast in the village of Zola which is officiated by the Metropolitan of Cephalonia. On the previous evening, the Metropolitan officiates during the Vespers at St. Nickolas Church in Argostoli, where an icon - heirloom of the Gerakis Family - is kept. There are other churches that celebrate on this day throughout the island, such as the Church in Ano Meria in Pylaros.

February 5th, St. Agathi's Day, is celebrated at Koronato Convent. The celebration includes a vigil and memorial service in memory of nun and later Mother Superior Agathi Megalogenous who was the Convent's founder.

February 10th, St. Haralambos Day, is celebrated in the chapel of the Holy Metropolis and in St. Haralambos Church in Lixouri. His Name Day is especially celebrated in Lixouri as He is the town's and Palliki's Patron Saint. The celebrations are completed with a litany of St. Haralambos icon through the streets of Lixouri. For years now the celebration is attended by the Chrysostomos, Metropolitan of Mythimni as a guest of the Metropolitan of Cephalonia.

February 11th, St. Vlasios the Martyr Day, is celebrated in His Church in Dematorata - Lixouri.

In March, the celebration of The Forty Sainted Martyrs is held in the church in their honor in the village of St. Nickolaos village of Pyrgi. This feast is attended by the Metropolitan every year.

On March 25th, the main celebrations take place in the Metropolis Cathedral in Argostoli, while there are a number of other celebrations in other villages - such as the Church of Evangelistria in Faraklata. The Metropolis Cathedral celebrations include events in honor for Independence Day which coincides with the Evangelismos holiday. A litany is held in Faraklata during the afternoon in which the Holy Icon procession passes through town streets. A special memorial service is held at the grave of the late Polykarpos, Metropolitan of Kerkyra and Paxoi, who passed away in this location while serving as Overseer of the Holy Metropolis of Cephalonia.

Evangelismos Day is also celebrated in Pessada with Vespers and Divine Liturgy.
There are many churches and chapels throughout Cephalonia in honor of St. Georgios Tropaioforos. Especially worth noting are the St. Georgios celebrations in Davgata, Skala and Haliotata (at the family chapel of Father Anastasios Spathis
St. Christoforos Day in May is celebrated in Farsa with a litany through the village, and in the Mouikis family chapel in Lakithra.

Sts. Constantine and Eleni are celebrated on May 21st in Karavados. The Metropolitan officiates at Vespers the previous evening. On May 21st he officiates at the Metropolis Cathedral in Argostoli as the celebration coincides with the anniversary of the Union of the Ionian Islands with Greece, resulting in a multitude of official events and functions to be attended.

During the month of June, we must note the celebrations for St. Genessios Prodromos at Fokata, Tzanata and at St. Thomas - Karavados. In recent years, magnificent feasts are held on June 29th in honor of the Sainted in Glory Apostles Peter and Paul. The epicenter of the celebrations is St. Paul the Apostle's church in Pessada. The celebration is significant in light of the ever widening acceptance of the theory that identifies Cephalonia as Meliti. According to Praxeis, St. Paul was shipwrecked on Meliti during his journey from Palestine in 57 AD, when he was being transferred to Rome to stand trial. The theory proposes that based on Praxeis descriptions, Cephalonia is the island of Meliti nad not Malta as it was previously believed. More information on this topic is provided on the relevant web page of this site.

On the same day, celebrations are held in St. Peter's Church in Valerianos village and the Twelve Apostles Church in Havdata.

July is also full of celbrations and feasts in Cephalonia. On the day of Deposit of theTheotokos' Sacred Belt, the devout are taken by boat to the tiny Dias Island on a pilgrimage to the Icon of Theotokos Vlahernon.

July 7th, St. Kyriaki Day is celebrated in the villages of Xenopoulo, Prokopata and Michata. The next day, July 8th, a celebration in honor of St. Prokopios is held in Kambitsata.

July 11th, St. Efimia Day, is celebrated in grandeur in Cephalonia and especially in the town of Agia Efimia. The Metropolitan of Cephalonia officiates at Vespers, Divine Liturgy and the Litany of the Holy Icon. The Metropolitan also attends a festive dinner given at his home by Reverend Ierotheos Amitsis, Abbot of the Theotokos Monastery at Themata.

An excellent feast in held on July 17th in the village of Vlahata in honor of St. Marina the Great Martyr. The Vespers and the Divine Liturgy are officiated by the Metropolitan of Cephalonia.

On July 20th , Profitis Elias Day, celebrations take place in the churches at Razata, Agrapidia, Omala and Kaminarata - Lixouri. The Metropolitan officiates at the liturgy in Kaminarata.

The feast for St. Anna in Lakithra is especially magnificent,officiated by the Metropolitan and attended by a large congregation of the devout. Other celebrations on this day are held at St. Efpraxia of tzanata village and St. Anna Church in Lepeda
The celebrations of July are completed with feasts for St. Paraskevi (July 26th) in Xerizomeno-Troianata, Atheras, Metaxata, Mesovounia, Lepeda and the chapel at Faraklata. St. Panteleimon is celebrated in Poulata, Kontogourata and Loukerata.

The peak of the summer period and the so-called religious tourism for the island of Cephalonia, comes in August. The first 15 days of the month are dedicated to Theotokos, culminating on the 15th on which day the Dormition is celebrated. Christians refer to this period as the "Easter of Summer".Within this period, and specifically on August 6th, the Trasfiguration of Christ is celebrated with all due honors in Travliata, Poros and Lixouri.

On the eve of the Trasfiguration, the Metropolitan officiates at the Vespers at Travliata in the presence of many devout who later gather in the courtyard of the spiritual center to celebrate the holiday. On the day of the Trasfiguration, the Metropolitan officiates at the liturgy held in the Church of the trasfiguration in Poros.

During the two weeks leading to the Dormition, The Theotokos Special Prayers are chanted in all churches throughout the island. The Metropolitan officiates daily at two different churches within his Metropolitan District throughout this period.

August 11th is the sad anniversary of the 1953 earthquakes. Also commemorated on this day is the miracle of Spyridon that took place in Kerkyra.

On the previous evening, Vesper services are held in St. Spyridon Church in Argostoli to commemorate both events. On the anniversary itself a memorial service is held for the souls of all those who tragically lost their lives in the earthquakes. In the evening, a mass attended litany of St. Spyridon's icon takes place through the town and the special prayer is repeated. The Metropolitan is present in all these events, officiating and preaching.
Dormition Day on August 15th is celebrated with splendor and magnificance. Feasts are held in Markopoulo and Arginia (the two locations where the small snakes called "Fidakia tis Panagias" appear) attracting large numbers of devout Christians. Feasts are also held at the churches in Theotokos' honor in : Peratata, Simotata, Metaxata, Damoulianata, Kardakata, Lakithra, Digaleto, Koronato Convent and Agrilia Monastery. Night vigils are held at the last two.

We thus come to the great day, the most significant day for Cephalonia and all Cephalonians living on the island or abroad: St. Gerasimos Dormition Day. St Gerasimos actually died on August 15th of 1579, the Dormition of Theotokos Day. As a result, the celebration of his memory was moved to the next day August 16th.

On the afternoon of the 15th , St. Gerasimos' Sacred Relic is moved in a litany procession from the older church that lies over his grave, amidst truly emotional and touching reactions from the devout who express their faith in God and their respect for St. Gerasimos.

The Sacred Relic is placed in a specially prepared place within the magnificent new church. Small Vespers begin and the devout start to pay respects from about 6pm until noon of the next day.

An Archieratic Liturgy is held on Saint Gerasimos Day followed by a Litany which is attended by clergy, nuns, monks, officials and thousands of Christians. The procession, which is accompanied by bands, an army honor corp, and boy scouts, ends up at the large plane tree when a prayer is chanted. The Metropolitan delivers a speech and the procession returns to the church where the public continues to worship the Sacred Relic. The Saint's Sacred Relic is returned to the smaller church and placed back in the larnax in the afternoon. A reception complete with an official dinner is given afterwards in the Convent's spacious Hall.

In the evening a special event in honor of Saint Gerasimos takes place in Argostoli. First, there is a litany of his icon throughout the town's streets which ends up at the main square. A special prayer is said and the Metropolitan addresses the cogregation.

Cephalonia is one of the places through which St. Kosmas the Aetolean passed on his preaching journeys. He was well received by Cephalonians and preached in several towns and villages on the island, always leaving behind a Holy Cross to commemorate his passage from a particular place. Saint Kosmas Day is celebrated on August 24th. . The main celebration takes place in Assos and is officiated by the Metropolitan. A Litany of the Holy Cross and St. Kosmas' icon through town, is followed by an official dinner. St. Kosmas the Aetolean's memory is also celebrated at Agrilia Monastery, Evangelistria Church in Faraklata, and other island churches.

August 27th, St. Fanourios Day, is a day of special celebrations on the island. The main celebration takes place at Theotokos Sissiotissa in the presence of the clergy and the Metropolitan.

August 29th, St. John the Baptist day, is celebrated in Karavomylos, Dilinata where the celbrations include a vigil, and at Ratzakli.

Saint Anthimos Kourouklis, Patron of Astypalaia, is celebrated on September 4th at St. Gerasimos protectorate church at Lepeda (at the site of His grave). The celebration is always attended by the nuns of the Convents of Saint Gerasimos, St. Andrew and Koronato.

The Holy Virgin's (Theotokos) Birthday is celebrated on September 8th at Paleohersou Monastery in Erissos. The celebration is always attended by the Metropolitan and a large congregation from all over the island. The Paleohersou Monastery Complex is closely identified with the devout clergymen - the Sklavounos brothers - Reverend Nektarios and Reverend Panagis, who for a number of years now perform pastoral duties for the entire Erissos district. Divine Liturgy is followed by a Litany of the Holy Icon. The celebrations are concluded at a dinner given in the Monastery . Paleohersou Monastery has a 20 bed capacity guest house that provides free boarding for a day or two for those who wish to visit. Anyone interested in staying at the guest house should contact the two aforementioned clergymen at: 0674051242.
On September 14th, Holy Cross Day, celebrations take place in two of Cephalonia's historic Monasteries: Kipouria and Estavromenos in Pessada.

At Kipouria Monastery, Vespers are chanted from 9 pm the previous evening till 2 am on Holy Cross Day. After Matins and the Doxoloxy, the Raising of the Holy Cross is performed in the Church courtyard. The ceremonies are attended by hundreds of devout Christians, especially from the Palliki district. After the Cross Raising Ceremony, the Metropolitan departs and Divine Liturgy continues in the church. A similar celebration takes place in Estavromenos of Pessada where the Liturgy is officiated by the Metropolitan.

Theotokos Myrtidiotissa, whose base of worship in Greece is the island of Kythera, is also honored in Cephalonia at Drepano Church where the Sacred Icon is kept. Theotokos Drepaniotissa is the Patron of Argostoli. For this reason the ceremonies in her honor are organized by the Municipality of Argostoli. Vespers and Divine Liturgy are officiated by the Metropolitan of Cephalonia in the presence of the municipal officials. A litany takes place in the afternoon. The procession moves through the streets of Argostoli, a prayer is said at the town main square and the the icon is then taken to St. Spyridon Church. It is customary for the icon to remain in this church for one week during which Vespers and Divine Liturgy are held. At the end of the week, the icon is returned, once again by procession, to Drepano Church. This holiday is also celebrated in St. Thekla village in Lixouri.

September 26th is St. John Theologos Day - celebrated in Sarlata, Razata and Kontogenada.

In October, everything revolves around the commemoration of the Restitution of St. Gerasimos' Sacred Relic on the 20th of the month. The ceremonies take place at Saint Gerasimos Convent at Omala. The ceremony schedule of August 16th is repeated once again with the participation of clergy, the nuns and many officials. Small Vespers is followed by a dinner given at the Convent Hall for the clergy and the officials. The ceremonies proceed with Great Vespers and Matins officiated by the Metropolitan. The Saint's Praises are chanted. Around 1 am, followed by the Divine Liturgy. The Metropolitan departs around 2 am. On October 20th, an Archieratic Liturgy and Litany of the Sacred Relic take place.. Literally thousands of Christians come to pay their respect to Saint Gerasimos during the two days. At the conclusion of the ceremonies, the Sacred Relic is taken back to the smaller church and placed in its larnax.

A celebration is also held on this day in St. Gerasimos Church in Lixouri where the Saint's Icon is litanized through the town in the afternoon. A prayer is said at the main square and the Metropolitan addresses the congregation and the officials.

St. Dimitrios Day on October 26th is celebrated at Saint Gerasimos Convent as it coincides with the Restoration of Saint Gerasimos' Day celebrations. Also celebrating in Dimitrios' honor are the churches in Troianata and Faraklata.

The holiday that truly touches the souls of Christians in November is that of the Theotokos Entrance on November 21st. Two grand celebrations take place: one in Theotokos Sissiotissa (Argostoli), and the other in Skineas village (Lixouri).
The Metropolitan of Cephalonia participates in both celebrations (which are held at different times) where he delivers a sermon. Vespers at Sissiotissa are scheduled between 7:30 and 9:00 pm while in Skineas from 10:00 pm to 2:00 am. The Metropolitan officiates at Matins and Doxology and departs while the Liturgy is in progress. He officiates the Divine Liturgy at Sissiotissa Church.

The Gathering of Archangels Michael and Gabriel and all Heavenly Powers is celebrated on November 8th at the Agioi Taxiarches Churches of Argostoli, Valsamata and Llixouri.
St. Nektarios is celebrated with festive Vespers and Archieratic Liturgy on November 9th at St. Nickolaos Church in Argostoli where a throne is dedicated to the Saint. Another celebration with Vigil is held at St. Nektarios Chapel at Koronato Convent.
St. John Chrysostomos is honored on November 13th in Kourouklata.

The November holiday calendar is sealed with the holiday in honor of Saint Andrew the Apostle on November 30th. The ceremonial activities center around St. Andrew Convent in Milapidia. The Metropolitan officiates the Archieratic Vespers which are followed by a Vigil. The Archieratic Liturgy is attended by clergy from different parts of the island, representatives of the other Convents and Monasteries and island officials. The Liturgy is followed by a Litany and a dinner at the Convent Hall.

During December, the last month of the year, the following holidays are observed:
St. Barbara is honored on December 4th with Vespers officiated by the Metropolitan at the cave-like tiny church near Argostoli. The Metropolitan, upholding the family tradition, has decreed a Vigil until 2 am at the old chapel at St. Andrew's Convent. A celebration in St. Barbara's honor is also held at Prokopata village.

St. Nickolaos is honored on December 6th. Vespers and Divine Liturgy are officiated by the Metropolitan at St. Nickolaos Church in Argostoli. This is a significant celebration because it is also the official celebration day of seamen, the Navy, the Merchant Marine, the Coast guard and the Merchant Marine Academy of Cephalonia. St. Nickolaos is also celebrated in Livathinata (Lixouri) and in Faraklata.

St. Spyridon Day on December 15th is a special celebration for the Metropolitan of Cephalonia who bears the Saint's name. The Metropolitan officiates at Vespers and Divine Liturgy at St. Spyridon Church in Argostoli. During the day, he receives the clergy, nuns, monks, island officials, students and the public who visit to express their good wishes. St. Spyridon Day is also celebrated at the Cave in Kourouklata village.

St. Eleftherios Day on December 15th is celebrated in the church in his honor in Argostoli. The Metropolitan of Cephalonia, Spyridon officiates at Vespers and Divine Liturgy. St. Eleftherios is also honored at the chapel of St. Eleftherios of Valsamata at the location "Groudi" (Mt. Aenos). There is a chapel belonging to St. Dionysios Church of Strofades in the village of Chionata, which celebrates St. Dionysios Day every year in the presence of the Metropolitan of Cephalonia.. As for December 25th, it is perhaps unnecessary to go into detailed description. Suffice it to say that Christmas is celebrated on every corner of the island, from one end to the other. The Metropolitan's Address is read in every church. However, it is worth noting that Early Christmas Liturgy that is held at 5 am all over Greece, here in Cephalonia as well as the rest of the Ionian Islands, it is held at 8am following a local custom.

Finally, St. Stefanos Day is celebrated on December 27th at Minies and Agia Irini villages.

We deemed necessary to record all this on our web pages so that the devout may have knowledge pertaining to events taking place on our island in Glory of God and in honor of His Saints and His Holy and Sacred Church.

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