Religious celebrations during winter season

by Anna Votsi

All the most important festivals and events of Kefalonia have religious connotations.
Orthodox religion (almost all the population) and Christianity form the basis of Kefalonia culture and the major holidays are associated with the worship of Christ or the commemoration of the Patron. 

Ag.(Saint) Vasileios on January 1st,  one in Ag. Vasileios ‘s 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 honour of the Saint is held at Koronato Convent on the eve of the holiday. Divine Liturgy is performed in both churches on Ag. Vasileios’s Day.

The celebrations of 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 ceremony is repeated from the ferry boat in Lixouri harbour in the presence of the Paliki congregation. The ceremonies close with the blessing of the waters of the well in Lixouri Square.

Ag. Athanasios and Ag. Cyrillus ‘s Day on January 18th are celebrated in the Church in their honour in the village of Agia Irini.

Ag. Efthimios’s Day on January 20th is celebrated in Havriata.

Ag. Gregorios Theologos is celebrated on January 25th in the church in his honour in Platies.

In February, Ypapanti’s Day is celebrated with a grand feast in the village of Zola which is officiated by the Metropolitan of Kefalonia. On the previous evening, the Metropolitan officiates during the Vespers at St. Nicolas ‘s 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, Ag. 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, Ag. Haralambos’s 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 Paliki’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 Kefalonia.

February 11th, Ag. Vlasios the Martyr’s  Day, is celebrated in His Church in Dematora – Lixouri.

In March, the celebration of The Forty Sainted Martyrs is held in the church in their honour in the village of St. Nicolaos 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 honour 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 Kefalonia.

Evangelismos Day 25th of March, is also celebrated in Pessada with Vespers and Divine Liturgy.
There are many churches and chapels throughout Kefalonia in honour of Ag. Georgios Tropaioforos. Especially worth noting are the St. Georgios celebrations in Davgata, Skala and Haliotata (at the family chapel of Father Anastasios Spathis)
Ag. Christoforos ‘s 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.

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 Lixouri.
Ag. Nektarios is celebrated with festive Vespers and Archieratic Liturgy on November 9th at Ag. Nicolaos 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 honoured on November 13th in Kourouklata.

The November holiday calendar is sealed with the holiday in honour 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:
Ag. Varvara is honoured 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 Ag. Varvara’s honour is also held at Prokopata village.

Ag. Nicolaos is honoured on December 6th. Vespers and Divine Liturgy are officiated by the Metropolitan at St. Nicolaos ‘s 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 Kefalonia. St. Nicolaos is also celebrated in Livathinata (Lixouri) and in Faraklata.

Ag. Spyridon’s Day on December 12th is celebrated at Ag. Spyridon’s Church in Argostoli where the Metropolitan officiates at Vespers and Divine Liturgy. During the day, he receives the clergy, nuns, monks, island officials, students and the public who visit to express their good wishes. St. Spyridon’s Day is also celebrated at the cave-shaped chapel in Kourouklata village.

Ag. Eleftherios’s  Day on December 15th is celebrated in the church in his honour in Argostoli. The Metropolitan of Kefalonia officiates at Vespers and Divine Liturgy. Ag. Eleftherios is also honoured at the chapel of Ag. Eleftherios of Valsamata at the location “Groudi” (Mt. Ainos). There is a chapel belonging to Ag. Dionysios ‘s Church of Strofades in the village of Chionata, which celebrates Ag. Dionysios ‘s Day on December 17th, every year in the presence of the Metropolitan of Kefalonia. 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 Kefalonia as well as the rest of the Ionian Islands, it is held at 8am following a local custom.

Finally, Ag. Stefanos’s 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 honour of His Saints and His Holy and Sacred Church.

info from Holy Metropolis of Kefalonia site:


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