Every year in Thessaloniki there is help the Bell roads festival. Many groups of people bearing bells (20 to 30 teams each year) from Greece and abroad take part. There are more than 1500 people active. Disguised dancers, musicians, will parade on the streets of the city.
They started wrestling. Nobody was backing up. From where I was standing I could not take good pictures. When I approached the wrestlers, the watchers started yelling at me for ruining their view. I decided to be exactly behind the referee in order not to disturb anyone and when I saw something interesting I took pictures as fast as possible.
The famous religious custom of walking on burning coal barefoot. Believers perform a ritual Dionysian dance to get to a state of nirvana before walking on burning coals.
Annual dancing on fire (Anastenaria) taking place in a village nearby Salonica. A very old custom and very famous in Greece. A lot of people visit from Salonica to see the event.
While waiting for the fire of Achlada to start at midnight, a custom that takes place in many villages around Florina on December 23, the guys we met there told us to go together at the next village, Giourouki, to see the fire there as well. They would start that earlier than Achlada, since that was a smaller village and most of the local people there would visit the big fire of Achlada later.
On the day of Epiphany, January 6, in a village nearby Thessaloniki, called Profitis (Prophet), the custom of Arapides takes place. This is a Dionysian custom where people of the village are dressed in goat's skin, wear colorful long hats and hang large pastoral bells around their waists to scare away the Kallikantzaroi.
On January 6, the water is blessed and a cross is being cast in the sea, lake or nearby river for that purpose. Some men will dive in to catch the cross. The one who gets it will have luck in the following year.
Some women visit home to home to invite others to the feast. They go into the yards, they chase chickens, dance, eat doughnuts made by housewives to cure them, drink wine. This goes on in every house and on the streets of the village.
You can see the pain in some firewalkers' face, some others show no expression or emotion. This year, there is one girl that will participate in this custom for the first time. After two hurtful tries, she stops, but not because she was hurting as she said but because she felt sad since Saint Konstantin and Saint Helena did not help her, did not blessed her by making her capable of walking on fire.