In Chios, Easter means Rocketwar. The celebration, as it is today, is dated back to the Turkish occupation. However, there are two stories that locals tell about the origin of this tradition.

A fight between the churches

%cf%80%ce%b1%cf%80%cf%80%ce%b1-%ce%b1%ce%b3%ce%b9%ce%bf-%ce%bc%ce%b1%cf%81%ce%ba%ce%bf%cf%8d%cf%83%ce%b7%cf%82The first story says that the beginning of this long term tradition was a fight between the children of the two parishes with slings. After some time also the grown ups started participating in this ”game”. It developed into a competition between all the people of the two parishes – not anymore with slings but with cannons. Those were brought by sailors from a battle cruiser they decommissioned. At the night of Christ’s Resurrection they shot the cannons with the aim to break the windows of the other church.

The origin of the current Rocketwar was in the 19th century. It was a reaction to the actions of the Ottoman occupiers. When the Ottomans started to confiscate the cannons out of fear that they could be used in a rebellion, the locals used rockets instead of cannons to continue their tradition. This response of the residents became the celebration of the Rocketwar.

 

Fighting off the Turkish

%ce%b5%ce%ba%ce%ba%ce%b7%cf%83%ce%b9%ce%acHowever, there is also another version which says that this tradition was born during the Turkish occupation. When the people on the island were prohibited to celebrate Easter like they were used to, the Christians from the churches of Panagia Erithiani and Agios Markos decided to have a fake ”war” with rockets to keep the Turkish away. Indeed, the Turkish were frightened by the sudden violence. They kept a safe distance while the rockets were fired. In the meantime, the communities were able to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection in the churches.

These are two versions that are known as the origins of the Rocketwar.