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Photographer's Note

Hios, as a seafaring island, chooses to celebrate the advent of the New Year by decorating a small boat, even within the house, instead of a Christmas tree. Every year, on New Year’s Eve, gangs of young children, usually boys, compete against each other for the best boat, which have been made with gusto and patience. The custom was started in honor of the Greek fleet, after the liberation of the island in 1912 and takes root following the destruction of Asia Minor. It is interrupted during World War II and since 1977 it has been revived uninterruptedly. It has even taken the form of a competition, which is co-organized by the Touring Club of Hios and the Municipality of Hios. Children from different parishes comprise groups with the intention of building the boats. These are miniature merchant and war ships whose construction is built according to certain regulations. They must not be over 5,5 meters in length, they are not in any way inferior to a real ship and they are made of sheet-iron and various other materials. Apart from that, the crew of the ships, namely the children which comprise the team, ought to prepare the so-called “praises”. These are poems which resemble carols from Asia Minor and express wishes for the year to come while satirizing the political affairs of the time. The competition is usually held at the square of the town where the crews present their ships and their “praises”. At the end of the evening they announce the victorious parish, which is the one that had the best presence as well as the most ingenious “praises”. Most crews, though, take part in this event not as much for the prize money as for the experience itself. Just before the New Year gets under way the winners take their boat to neighborhood after neighborhood singing their “praises” to the householders.

Τριάντα χρόνια κλείνει φέτος η αναβίωση του τοπικού εθίμου τα "Αγιοβασιλιάτικα βαποράκια" από την Ελληνική Περιηγητική Λέσχη Χίου.
Πρόκειται για παλαιό τοπικό έθιμο. Την Παραμονή της Πρωτοχρονιάς ομάδες παιδιών κρατώντας ένα αυτοσχέδιο πολεμικό βαποράκι, που το ετοίμαζαν από πολύ καιρό με μεράκι και φρόντιζαν να το εξοπλίσουν με όλα τα εξαρτήματα του, γύριζαν από σπίτι σε σπίτι τραγουδώντας κάλαντα και τοπικά παινέματα στους νοικοκυραίους, που τα συνόδευαν με ήχους των μικρών κανονιών των βαπορακιών τους. Μικροί και μεγάλοι συγκινούνται και ενθουσιάζονται με τα όμορφα παινέματα και τα καλοφτιαγμένα βαποράκια, που σε πολλά καπνίζουν οι τσιμινιέρες τους και ηχούν τα κανονάκια τους.

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Additional Photos by GALANTIS LOUKAKIS (greek) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 960 W: 0 N: 548] (7594)
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