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The Dormition of the Virgin Mary on the Island of Tinos: A Performance of Gendered Values in Greece


Evy Johanne Håland is a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellow at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.


On the Greek island of Tinos, the Dormition of the Virgin Mary is celebrated on 15 August. This death, fertility, and healing festival is important for several reasons: the church of the “Annunciation” owes its fame to a miraculous holy icon; the miracles worked by this icon have made Tinos a centre of pan-Orthodox worship; and pilgrimages are particularly made to the shrine during the Dormition. The celebration is also an important ideological festival for the Greek nation-state, as illustrated through several ceremonies, particularly the procession when the icon is carried from the church to the harbour. The date 15 August is a special one for Hellenism; it combines religion with patriotism, and the Dormition is a profound social event. There are several meanings and values connected to the festival — female and male, popular and official — the pilgrimage site on Tinos presents an interrelationship of history, ritual, and gender.