Traditions are important. They make up the culture. And when a society, a culture, starts forgetting their roots, their customs, it is said the society is heading toward its fall. This town in Greece is in no way heading to that. The city of Chios in Greece has a tradition of Rocket War. Every year, the town reenacts a war that happened almost 200 years ago. In this war, the participant churches aim rockets at each other. Considering the whole city takes part in it, it takes the shape of a festival.
A few years ago, Rocket War had a documentary made on it. It was interesting to see how the whole town makes it a point to ensure their safety but also not forgetting their tradition.
The residents discussed that they are not really able to track down the origin of the story, but they believe it to have started 200 years ago. Some say it was during the time of the Turkish invasion. This represents how old the tradition is that people do not even recall when it started, not clearly at least.
It has become a festival now. The war itself requires people to make rockets. It is all hand made. The town people get together to make them from coal and Sulphur. They said that if they plan on making many rockets, they have to start as early as Christmas and give it 4 to 5 months. But if they are planning on a small number of rockets, then they can begin even 15 days before the festival.
The preparation for the festival
For them, it is art. The way they talk about it, they have reverence for it. For a third person, the whole activity may seem dangerous, but for them, not so much. In fact, even in the documentary, they seemed overly eager to explain how the whole festival is safe and has been made safer every year. For safety purposes, they have wires around the houses near the churches, and even the rocket making process has been completed as safely as possible. The last accident, they recall, happened in 1993.
Take a look for yourself. It does seem scary, rockets flying right at the building you are standing in or a tree being on fire. But it does have an adrenaline rush to it.
It would be worth it to see it live at least once. Although if I do it, I will have to make sure a hundred times whether standing amidst the war is safe or not.
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