A Celebration in the Mountains - Panigyri at Penteli
After two straight weeks of Athenian traffic fumes, it was a relief to get up into the clean mountain air of Penteli for a spot of Sunday lunch with friends. Despite the forecast predicting rain it didn't happen and we ate in the garden with the cats, the turtle and the sounds of the chickens over the road announcing the eggs they were laying. Although just a short drive from Syntagma Square and the Acropolis, Penteli is quiet. Really quiet and, chickens aside, all we could here from the garden perched high above the town near the old observatory was the tannoy system from the celebrations for Panigyri.
The festival of Panigyri speaks to the heart of Greek culture. It's a saints day celebration that happens once a year for each saint. The priests come from the monastery and say prayers, lots of incense is scattered and the icon from the church is paraded in a loop around the square to the sound of a brass band. The crowds in this small town were enormous. The Panigyri at Penteli is pretty famous in these parts and thousands make the trip from Athens to follow the procession around town, say a prayer and or buy things in the enormous market that has always run along side these festivals.