Customs and Culture of Astypalea
Events are organized throughout the whole course of the year by the Municipality's Cultural & Sports Organization with local teams and groups participating. They include theatrical works, book fairs, musical evenings, and dancing with traditional costumes.
Over recent years a festival has been established with the name "In Astypalea for Arts and Culture" (with two sets of events in summer and winter) with a range of cultural happenings aimed at promoting and disseminating culture, reviving customs and entering residents of and visitors to Astypalea.
Each year as part of the Cultural Festival photography, book, cinema and art exhibitions take place.
They are either held in private facilities or in a special multi-purpose room in the Primary School that is also used as a congress facility.
Folklore feasts and Celebrations
On 2nd February the feast of Panaghia Flevariotissa is the main winter
gathering of the people of Astypalea. It is when they congregate to
celebrate with traditional dances, food and abundant supplies of wine.
The largest feast on the island takes place on 15th August in honour of Panaghia Portaitissa lasting from 14th - 16th August. On the first evening, on the eve of the feast, following vespers there is a celebration in the grounds of the church. On the feast day itself outside the church stuffed lamb known as 'lambrianos' is usually cooked. All visitors and friends of the island are invited and the costs are paid by the Municipality.
On the following day sporting events take place held by the Municipality and the Cultural Association. These games known as the "Koukania" include swimming, a game where blindfolded competitors feed each other yoghurt and 'petino' where a false cockerel is tied to the end of a wooden pole smeared with grease. The aim of the game is to see who can reach the cock first walking over the grease.
On 4th September the icon of the Virgin Portaitissa and the remains of Blessed Anthimos are paraded around Hora terminating outside the Town Hall. Following this they are carried to the house of those celebrating their name day where the house is then blessed. A party follows.
On 8th September Panaghia Thomiani is celebrated at Vathy where food and wine is served up. This is followed by traditional dancing.
Panaghia Poulariani is celebrated on 8th September and Aghios Dimitrios on 26th October.
Aghios Panteleimon is celebrated on 27th July and Christ the Saviour on 6th August with traditional sweet being prepared.
Customs and lore
In addition to reviving all the local religious feast day celebrations, a characteristic example of the preservation of local customs is the traditional wedding on Astypalea. This begins with the bridal bed being strewn when relatives and friends of the couple and the whole island call at the bride-to-be's house with gifts, food and the bed is decked with money and rice to that the couple can lay down firm roots. Fun is had until the morning with food and wine being served and the celebrations end on the wedding day when the bride and groom are accompanied to the church by local musicians on the violin and lute who sing praises to the newly weds to a traditional air from Astypalea.