Naxos Klidonas Custom

The Klidonas Custom of Naxos: The feast of Saint John Klidonas is "one of the most pagan of our calendar" as Dimitrios Loukatos - a Greek folklore specialist - has written. It belongs to the fire- / sun-worshiping customs and has ancient roots. The Romans lit bonfires in the Palilia, the ancient Greeks in the festivals of Cledonius Zeus, and the custom survived through the Byzantine and later times to the present day. Saint John goes by various surnames - Klidonas, Rizikaris, Lampadaris, Liotropis, Riganas, etc. "Klidonas" originates from the ancient word "klidon" which translates into "fame, voice", as during the celebration people divine the future through a voice they hear by chance.

In earlier times, one or three fires were lit in each house in the villages of Naxos. The purpose was purification through fire, as fleas and bedbugs were numerous and annoying during that period of the year.

Note that fire offers purification in many customs that mark the beginning of each new season of the year. Fires are still jumped by people today to "cleanse" but also to get stronger as the fire is believed to drive away evil and strengthen health. During old times, in Naxos, animals jumped over the fires, too, as the breeders "pass" the sick animals through the fire to cure them.

On June 24 (in some places on June 23, too), after nightfall, various villages of Naxos gather dry grass, straw, and vines and light the fire to "burn the fleas". Locals gather around the fire and jump over it three times. It is customary for the men to jump first - women and children tend to jump when the fire is lower. Today, the custom has been enriched by treats made by the female residents of the villages.
These fires are closely connected with the fruitfulness of the land since in many places, including Naxos, ashes from the fires of Saint John were placed on the trees (figs, olives, etc.) to produce more fruit.