- Title: GREECE: FLOUR WAR CARNIVAL IN GALAXIDI.
- Date: 14th March 2005
- Summary: SOUNDBITE (Greek) GIRL WHO HAS TAKEN PART IN FLOUR WAR SAYING: "It's fantastic. Very beautiful. I come here every year and I will continue to come here."
- Embargoed: 29th March 2005 13:00
- Location: ATHENS, GREECE
- Country: Greece
- Topics: Entertainment,Quirky,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVAB87MVQI54X8GF12B4K14TEDPE
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: As people across Greece celebrate the Carnival season, a very strange and messy ritual takes place in one seaside town.
The picturesque coastal town of Galaxidi, about 200 kilometers west of Athens, is as renown for carnival as it is the flour war.
Confetti and streamers cannot be found here but something altogether more vicious and messy.
From early Monday, people from across the country join their Greek compatriots to hurl more than 1,500 kilograms of flour bombs, bags of flour tinted with various shades food colouring. With a cow bell to signal the start of battle, hundreds of goggle and mask-wearing participants venture into the town to take part in this street battle, with the mainly youthful gangs of opponents firing lobs of flour bombs with a vengeance.
Armed with their powdery arsenal, whistles and horns, participants walk through the town, throw flour at each other while others prefer the less combative tradition of dancing.
Many of Galaxidis beautiful neo-classical houses along the main flour war route are covered with plastic sheeting in a bid to protect them from the billow of flour that is thrown indiscriminately.
The battle creates a huge mess and no spectator or unsuspecting tourist is safe from the haze of the substance more often found in a kitchen, seeping through clothing and transforming the tint of townhouses and sidewalks.
Spectators can be heard shrieking and running to hide from the flour throwers. Many opt to stand at a safe distance across the harbour and watch, but only from a distance.
The rather unusual tradition, which attracts thousands of visitors from across the country as well as many tourists, is a very calamitous business, with many people throwing away their war uniforms afterwards.
Locals say it takes days of painstaking efforts to wash off all the powder, but that does not stop the Galaxidians from proudly carrying out this unusual custom.
The ritual began in 1801 when the citizens of the proud seafaring town of Galaxidi defied the Ottoman occupation by celebrating in the Carnival, dancing, masquerading and painting their faces black as part of the festivities. The flour war was a custom that was added later.
Carnival festivities around Greece originate back to ancient times to the wine and dance festivals of worshippers of the god Dionysus, the mythological Greek god of wine.
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