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Ysternia, Festival of the Virgin Mary
The village of Ysternia is located at Exo Meria on Tinos, the island’s most fertile region. It is built amphitheatrically on the Meroviglia slope, with a panoramic view of the Aegean and the island of Syros. Marble sculpture has a leading role here since it is the second most important marble-working center in Tinos after the historic village of Pyrgos. Climbing to the village summit along marble-lined streets and passing under the impressive arches, the houses of Ystrernia village leave a strong impression due to their elaborate marble lintels and the colors used on their doors: pastel shades of blue, gray, olive, and aubergine.
The church is located at the entrance of the village. The celebration of the Virgin Mary starts on Saturday afternoon when some villagers spend time in their homes, receiving whatever their neighbors are able to offer and, on that afternoon, take the offerings to the church. Vespers follow and the village’s women begin their preparations for the next day’s festival. They clean the place and the kitchen, wash the traditional crockery and boil meat in large cauldrons for the egg-lemon soup. On Sunday morning the Mass starts. The women finish cooking the various appetizers and the egg-lemon soup, then cut the meat into chunks and lay the tables. After the mass, the procession of the icon takes place. Follows the meal, where locals and tourists are welcome to join and the traditional island festivities accompanied by violins start in earnest. Finishing the meal, the attendees pin a flower or a sweet or a gift to their fork and offer it to one of their beloved persons, thus maintaining the custom called “Rodaria”.