Each summer the island's three municipalities organize separate cultural
events and festival covering a wide range of activities affording locals and
foreign visitors on summer holidays the chance to truly enjoy themselves.
These events are as follows:
"The Hippocratia" organized by the Municipality of Kos from July to September. This festival includes the reading of the Hippocratic Oath, classical and other music concerts, theatrical works, ancient tragedies, folklore exhibitions, art, sculpture & photography exhibitions, traditional dances and song, special educational - entertainment events for children and yacht races.
"The Dikea" organized by the Municipality of Dikeos during July and August. This festival includes concerts, theatrical performances, traditional dances, new book presentations, events for children and sports.
"The Heraclia" organized by the Municipality of Iraklidon during July and August. This festival includes concerts, theatrical performances, traditional music and dance, and photography exhibitions.
Folklore feasts and Celebrations :
Quite a few religious feasts are celebrated on Kos at which the island's old customs and usages are revived, some of which will certainly be of interest to the visitor due to their peculiarity. One such example is the feast of Aghios Georgios on 23rd April at Pyli when horse races are held. On the same day in Asfendoiou locals serve up mezes in the forest while on 15th August at Kefalos boiled goat with rice is served up by the local livestock breeders.
Other religious celebrations are held on the feast of the Holy Spirit, the feast of the Apostles on 29th June and 15th August in Antimachia.
The feast of Aghios Ioannis is also celebrated on 28th August in Mastihari, the birthday of the Virgin on 8th September in Kardamena, Aghios Ioannis on 28th August and the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple on 21st November in Kefalos and Aghios Dimitrios on 26th October in Asfendiou.
During summer each year celebrations are organized on Kos with a purely local timbre relating to island products or fishing.
During the first week of August a Wine Festival is held in Mastihari while during the first half of the same month there is a Fish Festival and Honey Festival in Kefalos and Antimachia respectively. Moreover, during the first ten days of October a Fish Festival is held in Kardamena.
Lastly, Carnival is celebrated with float parades, primarily in Antimachia and Pyli.
Customs and lore :
The feast of Aghios Ioannis is marked by two customs: a) the Fanos (fire) custom and b) the Klidona (fortune telling) custom and practices associated with it.
A) The Fanos customl: This celebration coincides with the summer solstice (24th June) which was considered an important and dangerous turning point in the year and for this reason the ancestors of the residents of Kos sought various ways to protect themselves. As the sun goes down fires are lit in the street and in front of each house. The old and the young jump up and down three times.
Every effort is made to ensure that jumps are taken when the flame is burning brightly because the residents of Kos believe that by jumping higher than tall flames they transfer to themselves the powerful properties of the magical flame and thus rob it off its strength.
B) The Klidonas festival: Preparations for this fortune telling custom begin on the eve of the feast of Ahios Ioannis. This custom entails unwed girls in traditional costume gathering water in silence in a jug into which those present throw an item belonging to them such as a ring, earring and so on.
As the water is being carried the girls are supposed to abstain from speaking. Later one of the girls extracts the items one by one while reciting some verses. These verses are supposed to reveal the fate of the girl in relation to that item. The evening continues with song and dance around fires which are lit with May Day wreathes and that is why it is called Fire Night.
Many customs are practiced during August. The first six days of August in Greek are known as 'Drimes" which have their own customs. Other customs are called the Minalogia. In order to safeguard oneself against the Drimes and one's hair falling out one must not swim in the sea. This is done too in May. Figs and grapes that are black in colour are not eaten and clothes are not washed.
The Minalogia begin on the first day of August. These are forecasts about the weather for the whole year. It is said that the 1st - 12th of August correspond to the twelve months. Thus any clouds on those days of August prophesy poor weather during the corresponding months of the year to come.
In Antimachia and Kardamena the Niamero custom begins on the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ the Saviour. This custom relates to fulfilling some promise to the Virgin that has been made at a difficult moment in one's life.
Those practising the custom seek confession in the morning and in the evening between 300 and 500 people chant various hymns in front of the Virgin's icon. The custom starts on the evening of the Transfiguration on 6th August after vespers and finishes on the eve of the feast of the Virgin on 14th August before vespers.
In 313 AD the 1st September was established as the beginning of the religious year by the church and that day continues to be celebrated on Kos as new year's day with various customs such the enormous trunk of Hippocrates' Plane Tree being 'hugged' by women and children who recite verses wishing that the tree grants them some of its own power and some years from its own life.