30th January marks the “Fanarakia”. On this day the Find of the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary (Panagia) is celebrated.
The vision of Agia Pelagia was followed by extensive excavations and on 30 January, the mattock of Emmanuel Matsa (Spanos) identified the Sacred Icon. The joyous news was spread all over the island and the villagers started their way into Chora to worship Her Holy Grace. The night had fallen and the lanterns, they were holding, created a spectacular image, illuminating the path to Chora.
Since then, every such day a torch-procession, called Lanterns (Fanarakia), has been introduced.
Cast the custom is for the students of the island, who, starting from their schools where they gather, meet locals and visitors in the courtyard of the Church of the Annunciation (Panagia). Everyone has their own lantern!
The lantern-procession starts, and over the narrow streets of Chora, it leads to the harbor where the fireworks from the moored ships create a festive atmosphere. The night is really “bright”.
At the end of the procession, the tradition wants children to destroy their lanterns, waiting for the next year they will make new ones.
Previously, students competed against each other on who will make the most original and striking lantern, always using the same simple materials (wooden pole, gelatins, gluten).
Τhe themes in the decoration of wooden lanterns still vary today. They often depict Virgin Mary, “Ellie”, boats, and various other shapes, as the creative imagination of children is limitless.
During the procession hymns and songs are chanted.