All across Greece, spring is welcomed with traditional celebrations, and open arms. It is, after all, the season just before warm and sunny summertime! The most important of holidays during spring is, of course, Easter. The Resurrection of Christ is honored with lots of family, friends, delicious food, drink, music, and local island and mainland customs.
In Leonidio, the more than century-old tradition of the “aerostato” is both fun to craft and to watch. On Easter Saturday night, after “Christos Anesti” is chanted, these floating lanterns are released into the sky in the hundreds.
The lanterns themselves are crafted with paper, and float with the help of ignited petroleum-soaked cloth. I’ve personally helped make one myself many years ago in a village in Sparti. Though it looked a little crooked, was made with plain white paper, and released in the daytime, I remember watching it float until I could not see it any longer! We didn’t have digital cameras back then, and I was in charge of photographing the tiny speck as it floated away into the distance. As I recall, it was lots of fun!
To make your own floating lantern, all you need is thin bamboo sticks, thin sheets of paper, scissors, glue, wire, string, cloth, and petroleum! It’s not too difficult to craft, but it’s definitely best to learn from a pro during Easter in Leonidio!