The Easter Rocket War Of Vrontados

Samuel Reason | July 23rd, 2019

In a little unknown village in Greece called Vrontados, every Easter there is a very strange and vibrant tradition. One that lights up the skies and may even cause some major injuries. It is known as the Rocket War of Vrontados, and it happens every Easter. All the members of two rival churches square-off between a small valley, and no they are not there to exchange fists, these two parishes are there to blow each other up.

Or at least they will probably end up burning some skin. The objective is to fire thousands of homemade rockets at the other church while they are holding a service. The goal is to hit the “enemy” churches bell and that would mean winning. The tradition even has its special name, a whole festival has been born out of it, called Rouketopolemos.

Legend has it that both churches have celebrated the tradition for over 125 years, the church of Agios Markos and Panagia Erithiani, locked in a never-ending war of fireworks. Of course, the regions fire brigade is not too happy about the tradition and many attempts have been made to shut it down. But at the end of the day, it is hard to stop something that is cherished by every local member and has been ingrained into their cities culture. And it brings in a large number of tourists, therefore giving the local economy a boost.

The true start of the tradition dates back as far as the Ottoman empire when rival churches would use cannons, but this was eventually banned in 1889 after too many casualties.

Rockets fired are hand made, so many members spend a whole year preparing rockets to ensure their church has enough to shoot. During the firework madness and endless rocket launching, locals have to protect their homes with special screens to ensure no rockets end up setting their house on fire. The funny thing is, every year they decide to call it a tie and say that they will figure out the winner next Easter! Which means the Rocket War never ends.

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