A Gendered National Festival on a Greek Island Shrine

    • Europe Inside-Out Nice 2016
    • Presentation speakers
      • Evy Johanne Håland, Independent Researcher


    In modern Greece, the festival dedicated to the “Dormition” of the Panagia (the Virgin Mary) is celebrated on 15 August. On the Aegean island of Tinos, this fertility- and healing-festival dedicated to the Dormition of the Panagia is particularly important due to several reasons. The church of the Panagia, Euangelistrias (“the Annunciation”), owes its fame to a miraculous holy icon (image) of the Annunciation, which was unearthed in a field in 1821. The miracles worked by this icon have made Tinos a centre of Pan-Orthodox worship, and pilgrimages are particularly made to this greatest shrine of Greek Orthodoxy during the Dormition. The Dormition of the Panagia is also an important ideological festival for the “New Greek nation-state of 1821”, as illustrated through several ceremonies during the festival, particularly the procession when the icon is carried from the church to the harbour. In short, 15 August is a special day for Hellenism, combining religion with patriotism, and the Dormition on Tinos is a profound social event. The festival is also an excellent occasion to study the relation between the female and male world. Accordingly, there are several meanings and values connected to the festival and its rituals, popular and official, female and male, since the pilgrimage site on Tinos presents an interrelationship of history, ritual and gender. Here, different interests – sacred and secular, local and national, personal and official – all come together, we meet an intersection of social, religious and political life. The paper is based on several periods of fieldwork, carried out since 1990 to the present, involving research into the festival dedicated to the Dormition of the Panagia on Tinos, and it aims to explore some of the main elements of this festival taking place on the margins of Europe, within a socio-economic and political framework.