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Donousa – Festival tou Stavrou (‘of the Cross’)
Situated at the extremities of the Ikarian archipelago, Donoussa is the most remote island of the Minor Cyclades. The windswept island is regarded as a small paradise for those seeking solitude.
The church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was first built at the village in the late 1800s, giving the village its name. Over time, the first church fell into ruin, but was rebuilt in 1902 on the site where it is found today. This beautiful church has a double bell tower and a sky-blue dome.
The festival of the Cross takes place on the eve of the celebration of the Cross. Every year the women of the village adorn the church’s icons with flowers, basil, jasmine, jinn and white carnations. From the island’s only bakery, the men bring artos, fragrant with fresh anise, cinnamon, clove, mastiha and mahleb. After vespers, the participants go to the cultural center to celebrate by having goat cooked in tomato sauce and potatoes for supper, always accompanied by wine. After the meal, they head to the shore where local musicians await them. The dances and festivities last until the morning hours. On the morning of the festival of the Cross and after the holy mass, the clergy lead a procession that takes the icon of the Cross to the port. There, a local villager, bearing the icon, visits all the boats docked at the port to bestow blessings.