During the evening of Good Friday, people with candles singing mourning songs follow the Epitaph around the village. The streets of Leonidio are illuminated by thousands of oranges stuffed with candles.
The most impressive custom however can be witnessed on the evening of the Resurrection. The mass starts at 11 pm and at midnight “Christ is Risen” is heard from the priest. Shortly thereafter, the sky is filled with thousands of brightly coloured handmade aerostata (“hot air balloons”) that are released by the people with the aim of reaching as close to God as possible. The balloons serve as messengers and are set free to take the prayers and hopes of the Resurrection as high in the sky as possible. The town’s five parishes compete with each other to release as many balloons as possible and keep them airborne for the longest period of time. The sight is nothing short of spectacular. As the balloons ascend to the heavens they begin to look like stars before slowly disappearing one by one.
Meanwhile, fireworks add to the whole spectacle and echoes of dynamite explosions reverberate along the cliffs – some of them loud enough to…well lets just say next time I’ll be taking a change of underpants with me!
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