Christmas in Iliochori

One of the most important religious holidays celebrated by the inhabitants of Iliochori is Christmas. Many families from Iliochori who live in other cities return for this occasion. According to N. Exarchos in his book "Dobrinovo," on December 22nd, the women of the village bake bread in their homes and give it to the children who go from house to house, singing Christmas carols. It is tradition to cook lamb, kid, and minced meat to symbolize the birth of Christ. Wine is always present on the tableand it symbolizes the festive spirit. The women always keep the fire burning, day and night. The bells of the church of Aghios Nikolaos announce the arrival of Christmas at midnight.

17th January: Aghios Antonios
The church for Aghios Antonios used to be situated on the road towards Aghios Mantheas. You could arrive there by leaving from the plane-tree from the church of Aghios Nikolaos, heading towards the church of Aghios Athanasios and following the old road for the mill. Nowadays, every year on the 17th of January there is still a mass in his honour and Iliochorites pay a visit to those that celebrate their name-day.

18th January: Aghios Athanasios
The mass in honour of Aghios Athanasios takes place in the present church of Aghios Athanasios, located under the village on the old road to Laista.

01st February: Aghios Trifonos
This holiday is deeply cherished by the people of Iliochori. Families go to the vineyards around the village, celebrating and praying to Saint Trifonas.

25th February - March: The Carnival of The Town
Iliochorites celebrate the Carnival of the Village by lighting big bonfires in different parts of the village. According to N.Exarchos' book "To Dobrinovo," published in 1933, the villagers spent the carnival week by slaughtering lambs and toasting to the phrase "God bless the souls." Women and girls would visit the cemetery on Saturday, dressed in black, to visit the graves of the deceased, placing candles and decorating the graves with walnuts and sugar. Today, the carnival is celebrated with more joy compared to the past, with only a few elderly residents maintaining the traditional celebrations.
The author N.Exarchosasserts that they found a scholastic notebook in the house of Ioannis Chaido's brother. In this notebook, there is a description by Georgios Tsoulakis of how the Carnival was celebrated in Iliochori in 1900, before he emigrated to America. On February 20th 1900, during the last week of Carnival, people used to parade around the streets of the village dressed in costumes. The evening festivities took place in Mesochori, where they danced to the accompaniment of violins and clarinets. Today, the Carnival in Iliochori is celebrated with even more joy than in the past, though only a few elderly residents still maintain the tradition of celebrating it as it used to be.
Throughout the months of February and March, the holiday of "Aghios Theodoros" is celebrated.

Easter in Iliochori:
Easter is another significant religious festivity celebrated with great participation. Many families from Iliochori, living in other cities, return to the village to celebrate this occasion.

24th May: Aghios Ioannis (john)
On May 24th, the holiday of "Aghios Ioannis" is celebrated. The church is situated in the locality of Astiagia, about 1 ½ hour of road from the bottom of Iliochori. On this day, people usually enjoy a meal with fish from the river.

11 Ιουλίου: Άγιοι ΤαξιάρχεςΣτις 11 Ιουλίου, την ημέρα της εορτής της μεγαλομάρτυρας Ευφημίας, η Θεία Λειτουργία στο χωριό μας τελείται στο εκκλησάκι των Αγίων Ταξιαρχών.

20th July: (PROPHET ELIA)
This holiday was in honour of the Prophet Elia of the Patron Saint of Iliochori. Is an holiday religion and folk-lore, in fact the women of the town few days before they go to the church situated in front of the town, to prepare it suitably for the holiday's day. The folklore holiday, start the evening of the 19 July. At the center of the square the Iliochoriti start the traditional dances of the Epirus, and in particularly (peculiar) of the region of Zagori, with the music of the orchestra ( Ta organa ). The morning of 20 July happens the religion's holiday: The faithfully cover by walking the road that from the town brings to the church of the prophet Elia: at the end of the function; they go to the houses of the people that celebrate the name day for the wishes. Always the same evening on the main square of the town there are again the traditional dances until the first lights of the morning. This holiday is occasion of many people urinary of this place but they live fairway, to go back to Iliochori. The holiday attracts even to many visitors from the towns; eager to teast typical dishes and wines of the region of Zagori.

26th July: Aghia Paraskevi
This festivity is very felt not only in the town of Iliochori but in all Greece. In Iliochori it is custom to go in church for the religious function that is carried out in the Church of Saint Nikolaos beside of the great plane-tree.

6th August: Aghios Sotiros
The church was on the locality of "Lipochori" at half street between Iliochori and Vrysochori. This holiday was the meeting between the communities of the two towns. Today the religion ceremony is in the church of Aghios Minas. Even for this holiday was usual eating fish. At present after the religion function they convene in the house of one family where they invite sweets, coffee, zippuro and even dried cod fried, that remand the tradition.

15th August: Holiday of The Virgin Mary (feast of The Assumption)
It's celebrated on the church of Panaghia dedicated to the Virgin Mary fairway 800m from Iliochori. The actual church is there where in the ottoman period existed one monastery are evidences the ancient icons in the church. At north of the church hidden among the bushes there is one catacomb still intact used by the monks in case of necessity. On the church of Panaghia can admire even now one Venetian bell dated 1896. This bell was donated to the church of the town from one Greek family emigrated in Venice to escape from Turkish's.

Ιστοσελίδα του Ηλιοχωρίου (Από τον Μιχάλη Ζαμπάκο)

Dobrinovo's book