Every spring, Easter is celebrated in a unique way in Chios as the rocket war of Vrontados, the most characteristic and impressive custom of the island, takes place. The rocket «war» is a custom held every Easter in Vrontados of Chios between the parish churches of Agios Markos and Panagia Erithiani, two churches lying on opposite hills, 350 meters from each other. On the evening of Holy Saturday, the parishioners unleash thousands of handmade firework rockets aiming at the bell tower of the opposite church, creating one of the world’s most surreal pyrotechnic displays. When the bells for the Mass of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead strike, a ceasefire is called between both sides to allow parishioners enter to their churches but when “Christos Anesti” is heard the “battle” starts again with a rain of rockets flooding the two parishes. On Easter Sunday, there is an official counting of successful hits of the rockets found their goal in order to tell which church is the winner but both sides agree to a rematch the following year, so as to continue this beautiful tradition.
The custom is believed to have its origin during Ottoman domination, in which the residents of Vrontados celebrated Easter using small canons to make noise. The Turkish authorities banned the use of the cannons due to the fear of them being used against them, so the inhabitants replaced the cannons with handmade small rockets. The tradition continues to this day, with only two exceptions: the German occupation and the dictatorship.
The preparation of rockets starts almost immediately after Easter to be ready for the next year, since in the last few years several thousand rockets have been made to offer a marvelous spectacle to the every year increased number of visitors who choose to come to Chios during Easter period. Rocket War is a must see event that promises to be unforgettable!