Vrontados – a small town on a calm Aegean island. However, this town has a peculiar habit. Every year on Easter Saturday the night sky is lit up with thousands of rockets.
Starting from December locals build rockets. On the day before Easter some brave men install the launching pads for the rockets. With the necessary aid of beer and refreshments the men adjust these platforms to aim the rockets at the other church. Some rockets are being fired to check if the angles are right. At the same time thousands of rockets are brought to the two sites where they are stored in fireproof bunkers.
But the real spectacle starts at 8pm, when the war begins. The teams start slowly by firing only a few rockets and provoking the other team with these mild insults. Gradually the amount of rockets fired at each other increases. This keeps going on until the apocalyptic finale at 12pm.
This spectacle is witnessed by hundreds maybe thousands of people who add to the event by firing their own fireworks into the sky and throwing huge amounts of firecrackers onto the ground. All this noise and the explosions make you feel like you are in a warzone. The fact that these homemade rockets sometimes go off course and find their way into the crowds, obviously adds to this feeling.
The next day all the streets are plastered with burnt out rockets and the churches are covered with black patches as a result from the impacts of well-aimed rockets. Although this spectacle seems rather aggressive it is also one of the most beautiful events we have ever seen, and it will not be forgotten lightly.
by Jorg and Jeroen (Belgium)