No, it is not necessarily New Years Eve when you hear rockets and fireworks in Vrontados. It is an old tradition there to fire thousands of rockets at two churches in the night before Easter Sunday. This is called rocket war because both churches have a team and they pretend to be in a war against each other.
It is difficult to tell how and when the “Rocket War” tradition started in Vrontados. Today there are many different versions of the story and we will tell you two of them:
The first version says that it has its origins in the 19th century, when the Ottoman occupiers confiscated the cannons of the locals because they feared that they would be used in a rebellion. So the residents of Vrontados had the idea of using rockets instead. This became the traditional annual Rocket War.
The second story states that this tradition was born during the Turkish occupation. People from the island were prohibited from celebrating Easter the way they used to. So the Christians from the churches of San Maria and San Marco decided to have a fake war with rockets to keep the Turkish away. Indeed, the Turkish were frightened by the sudden violence and kept a safe distance while the rockets were fired. In the meantime, the communities were able to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection in the churches and the Turkish occupiers had no clue what was really going on.
For more information check www.rocketwar.info