Kefalonia Snake Festival

The Mid August Snake Festival in Kefalonia, Ionian Greece: The Church of the Virgin in Markopoulo is famous for the Snake Festival on August 14th and 15th. Snakes are taken to the church in bags or jars and deposited in the church near the silver icon of Panagia Fidoussa (Virgin of the Snakes). You should try and go early to the village as roads at each end of the village are blocked by the police because of the appearance of snakes 2-3 days before the festival. In such a situation, the only permissible route to Markopoulo is the uphill road from Kateleios. The festival has commercialized in the last few years and offers similar atmosphere as that of Agios Gerassimos.

Pre-earthquake stories say that thousands of harmless baby snakes used to appear at the beginning of August and used to disappear into the church by the altar, but soon the stories allowed for the protective instinct of the villagers for the snakes from the motorists. So, the snakes were picked up and deposited within the church at the same altar spot rebuilt after the quake. Another regular debate prevalent among the masses is whether the church is on the snakes migratory route or is their absence during mid-August a sign of calamity as the year of the earthquake (1953). Whatever be the winning idea, it adds color to life and culture of Markopoulo.

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