Key Dates

Key dates The following is a brief resume of Greek Bank Holidays and festivals.


New Years Day (1 January). Bank Holiday.

Epiphany (6 January). Bank Holiday.


Ash Monday, or 'Clean' Monday (16 February)


Independence Day and Festival of the Annunciation (25 March). Bank Holiday. In 1821 the Greeks rose up against the oppressive Ottoman Empire which had occupied Greece for nearly four hundred years, which culminated with the successful War of Independence. In the Greek Orthodox calendar, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the maiden Mary and announced the news that she was pregnant with the divine child Jesus


Easter (Cretes most important religious festival) (3 May). Greek Orthodox Good Friday (Bank Holiday). Symbolic body of Christ is carried from the churches and cathedrals through the streets 3 May (Greek Orthodox Easter) Saturday evening service, at midnight all lights are extinguished and the Priest appears holding a candle and announces that Christ has risen (Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday) The most important day in the Orthodox calendar, traditionally celebrated with lamb roasted on a spit (Greek Orthodox Easter Monday) (Bank Holiday)


Labour Day (Protomayá) or May Day (1 May). Bank Holiday. Cretans tend to leave the major towns, and head back to their respective family villages in the hills

Battle of Crete (27 to 31 May). Commemorates the German invasion of Crete in May 1941. Church services in Hania with ceremonial events


Day of the Holy Spirit (12 June). Celebrated in even numbered years during the last week of June to commemorates Crete's relationship with the sea.

Feast of John the Baptist (24 June)

Navy week. Last week of June - celebrated in even numbered years to commemorates Crete's relationship with the sea.


Vouves wine festival (28 July). Street party in the local village of Vouves.


Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (15 August). A day of family reunion with Church processions followed by open air eating in the village squares. A celebration regarded as almost important as Easter.


Sardine Festival (1st week in September). Neo Hora beach, to the west of Hania Old Town. Free sardines, village wine, music and traditional dancing.


Elos Chestnut Festival (20 October - third Sunday of the month). The village of Elos stages a Chestnut Festival when everyone is offered roast chestnuts, chestnut sweets and copious amounts of tsikoudia

Ochi day (28 October). Bank Holiday. On the 28 October 1940, Italy, with the backing of Hitler, wanted to occupy Mainland Greece. An ultimatum was issued to the Greek General Metaxas on 28 October 1940 by the Italian Ambassador, requesting permission for Italian Forces to enter Greek territory, and occupy a number of strategic locations, or face war with Nazi Germany. Metaxas response was apparently simply "Ochi!" or "No!". This resulted in Italian troops, who were then stationed to the north of Greece, in southern Albania, launching a land invasion of the Greek border, and it was this that marked the start of Greece's participation as an Allied Force in World War 2.


Cretan National Day (8 November). Cretan National Day


Christmas (25 December). Bank Holiday. Not as widely celebrated as Easter. Presents are not given until Paramoni Protochronia (New Year's Eve).

St. Stephen's Day (26 December). Bank Holiday.