About the Aerostat of Leonidion

    The Easter aerostat of Leonidion is a paper flying device that is brought out once the priest of the parish says "Christ has risen". Every parish of Leonidion (my town Leonidion consists of five parishes) launch approximately 60 -100 aerostats on the night of the Resurrection of Christ, that is around about 500. At this time of the night, the sky of Leonidion is set alight by lights and whoever does not know what there seeing will think that there is a UFO in the sky.The finest and most fascinating aerostat has to be from my parish. The parish of Saint Catherine. No-one knows when this tradition started. The aerostat is well-known to all the people of Leonidion. For these people, if there was no aerostat Easter would not be the same for them, some part of Easter would be missing if there was no aerostat.How is the aerostat made? The common aerostat is made up 16 pieces of paper. The paper have to be thin, so it is light. If it is not made this way, the aerostat will fall and will be burnt to pieces. The paper pieces are a range of colours. This makes the aerostat colourful and full of life. Even when you look at it, you fell a whole lot of joy inside yourself.The opening at the bottom is opened with some sort of "hoop" from thin sliced cane at the top which ties crossways on a line of wire. The line of wire which you need so it can stand on a piece of cloth (known as "colimara" in Greek) dipped in olive oil and petroleum, which its fire will light up the aerostat until it falls to the ground.The Easter aerostats fly very high, more than 1000 metres and if the aerostat is taken by the wind, it can reach near the island of Spetses (over 50 km). But, once the cloth which has been dipped in oil and petroleum dies down, the aerostat chills and falls down. But not only the night of Resurrection where thy launch aerostats and also midday at the "Liturgy of Love" in the central square of Leonidion. Then the sky is filled (not only from the lights) but from lots of wonderful colours. The sky is polychrome (lots of colours). Whoever has born after 1980 will remember the 2nd year book of primary school's description of my village at Easter time. This is an event that will remain in my mind until the day that I shall die.
    Philip Bekyros MD

    Translated by Dimitra Kerkula