The residents of Olympos, a village built on a remote mountain ridge on Karpathos island, are deeply religious. During Holy Week, the whole village engages in ritual mourning for the death of Christ, a solemn tradition that reaches its climax on Easter Tuesday. All the villagers carry icons wrapped in brightly coloured scarves from the church through the entire village until they reach the cemetery, where they announce the resurrection of Christ to the dead. Every grave is blessed by the priest. On Good Friday, women dressed in black decorate the Epitaph with thousands of wildflowers picked from the meadows. On top of the flowers, they place photographs of loved ones who have passed away during the last year. The evening procession of the Εpitaph pauses at every household in mourning, where the names of the deceased are read out. On Easter Saturday, every household prepares ofto, goat stuffed with rice that is slow-roast in a wood oven for 24 hours, ready for the Easter feast. The resurrection of Christ is celebrated at midnight in the village square.

Time has stood still at Olympos: the same Byzantine rituals are repeated generation after generation, and there is no trace of modern civilisation. The local women, the eldest of whom still wear traditional dress every day, are remarkable for their strength, dignity, and pride. This close-knit, matriarchal community has played an important role in preserving the customs and traditions of this remote island.

 

 

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