Each of the festivals lasts for 3 days and involves various processions, music and dancing, and an animal sacrifice. The festival culminates with a firewalking ritual, where the participants, carrying the icons of saints Constantine and Helen, dance ecstatically for hours before entering the fire and walking barefoot over the glowing-red coals, unharmed by the fire. Each community of the Anastenaria has a special shrine known as the konaki, where their holy icons are placed, as well as the “signs” of the saints (‘’semadia’’), votive offerings and red kerchiefs attached to the icons. Here, on the Eve of the saints’ day, May 20 Saint Constantine and Saint Helen, they gather to dance to the music of the Thracian lyre and drum. After some time they believe that they may be "seized" by Saint Constantine and enter a trance.
On the morning of the Saints' day, May 21, the gather at the konaki and proceed to a well to be blessed with holy water, and sacrifice animals. The rules about the nature of the beasts to be slain are precise, but differ from village to village. In the evening a fire is lit in an open space, and after dancing for some time in the konaki, the "anastenarides" go to it carrying their ikons. After dancing around it in a circle, individual anastenarides dance over the hot coals as the saint moves them.
The ritual is also performed in January, during the festival of Saint Athanasius, and fire-walking is done indoors. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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