Each year on August 15, Agiasos becomes host to a large ‘panygyris’ (religious festival) in honour of Virgin Mary - to many, this is the grandest celebration of Mary in the northeastern Aegean and the event tends to inundate Agiasos with pilgrims.
Known all across Greece for its magnificent church of the Agia Sion (Saint Mary of Zion), Agiasos is second only to Tinos for pilgrims who come here to kneel before the Panagia i Vrefokratousa, a miracle-working icon brought to Agiasos from Jerusalem by Agathon the Ephesian in the year 803. Come here, join the hordes of believers who flock to the Agiasos church of the Virgin Mary and have an experience of the pious nature of this major event in the Orthodox Christian calendar.
The celebrations commence as early as August 1, when pilgrims begin to arrive at the Agiasos church of the Virgin Mary. A large number of them opt to travel from Mytilene and the Lesvos provinces on foot, stopping at Karini and then taking the steep cobbled path known as the ‘patomeni’ through the olive groves and into Agiasos.
The festival includes a religious procession following service and celebratory events unraveling in the central village square. While music and dance are an integral part of any religious panygyris, the atmosphere in Agiasos on August 15 is one of particular joviality and is definitely worth experiencing.
An opportunity for the display and trade of local products, the festival is a time when merchants set up their stalls by the side of the road, selling delicacies such as halva, crab apples, pears, walnuts, almonds, herbs and a variety of condiments.
The religious celebrations reach their peak on August 15, when large numbers of believers may be seen making the long trip to Agiasos on foot so, if you are driving, take caution and expect some delays.