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August 15: Religious holiday is the perfect excuse for Greece to throw a grand party

Religious festivals and saints’ days in Greece are always a big deal. They bring families together – the younger members of which are often named after their elder relatives – reinforce the bonds of local communities, resuscitate age-old traditions and buttress the people’s faith. They can also serve as excellent occasions for matchmaking and even for settling old scores – many a local festival degenerates into a brawl that is later settled amicably over food and even more wine. Every saint is revered, but none as gloriously as the Virgin Mary, or Panaghia (All-Saintly), is on August 15, the biggest religious event in Greece after Easter and Christmas, a national holiday that is observed by the civil service and private sector.
Read MoreAugust 15: Religious holiday is the perfect excuse for Greece to throw a grand party