Culture and Festivals on Ithaca

There is always something to celebrate here on Ithaca... In the tradition of The Odyssey, Ithacans have a seafaring history and culture. Whether it's sailing off to far away lands looking for security, working on ships that travel the world, or fishing the Ionian, the sea is an integral part of the Ithacan core.

Unlike the mainland and the islands in the Aegean, who have been influenced or impacted upon by the Turkish over the centuries, Ithaca has a greater Italian influence. It is in their language, their food and the architecture of the island, but just like the greater part of Greece, their religious roots are Orthodox Greek. Ithacans enjoy the ritual of church and the priests on the island enjoy the respect and reverence given to them.

The obvious difficulties for a community living on a small island have made Ithacans resourceful in their daily lives and welcoming to visitors, who bring a little of the outside world into their villages. Ithaca is still worlds away from take-away food and shopping complexes, existing instead with bread baked in wood fired ovens and then taken on the road, house to house, gypsies selling wares off the back of their trucks, fruit brought in by 'Manaves' from the Peloponnese and larger neighboring islands by men who drive village to village enabling the locals access to what the rest of the world takes for granted. The simplicity of life is astounding and difficult for many, especially the old, yet even they will climb through the groves, combing the olives from the trees. To be self sufficient is a necessity, not an ideal, and it shows in their determination to remain on Ithaca even though the rest of Greece can offer greater comfort and opportunity.

Locals of all ages like to cruise ,'Volta', down the streets or along the Pier by foot, by car or by motorbike, and break out in songs, sung in chorus when they are with their 'paraia'.
Strong family values are the core of the entire community. The extended family is still as deep rooted in Ithacan culture as it ever was, even with the modern world tempting to influence it into 21st century yuppidom.

Few people on Ithaca celebrate Birthdays, but almost everyone celebrates their 'Name Day'. This custom stems from the Greek Orthodox religion in which all children are baptized with a name that is acceptable to the church. These are, names of Saints or names with a holy quality to them. If you have wondered why everyone is called Dimitri or Yiorgos, this is the reason. Over the past 15 years, western celebrations of birthdays have slowly crept into Ithacan culture, but 'Name Days' still take precedence.

The Ithacan Summer is filled with celebration. It's a perfect opportunity to party with the locals, Everyone is welcome. Join in the dance, eat pork from the spit and see dawn break over Ithaca as you enjoy the festivities of the 'Panighiria'.

Other events celebrated are The Wine Feast in August at Perahori, the small village in the mountains above Vathy, and In May in Vathy, Ithacas Festival Of Theatre, a contest for plays presented for the first time.

When traveling to Ithaca please keep in mind that water is gold and that the infrastructure of cities for rubbish removal and waste does not exist here. Please help this small community in keeping Ithaca clean and environmentally friendly by disposing of you waste in appropriate ways and by not wasting water. During the Summer months Ithaca needs everyones help in keeping the island beautiful.

Culture and Festivals on Ithaca Greece. Ithaki things to do. Greek Island Holiday.



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