photos: Konstantinos Tsakalidis
Serres, Greece. Anastenaria is a fire walking ritual taking place every year on Saint Konstantinos and Saint Helen's day in areas of northern Greece. The ritual originates from the Strandzha Mountains near the Black Sea and is a mixture of Christian Orthodox beliefs and other pagan traditions, and more specifically, elements of ancient practices of the worship of the god Dionysus. The name Anastenaria has been taken by Anastenari, the image retained throughout the duration of the ritual in the hands of fire walkers. The procedure starts with an exctatic dance under the sound of the drums followed by the animals sacrifice with meat offered to the village inhabitants and ending with the firewalk. When firewalking, participants, in greek Anastenarides, that get into state of sacred trance, walk on hot coals in bare feet holding a Bible or a holy scarf (Amaneti).