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Greek Traditions For New Years On Lesvos

Father Christmas in Greece, known as Agios Vassilis (Saint Basil/ Basillis/ Bill), comes with  the arrival of the New Year, bearing gifts.

It is tradition for the first visitor who comes to your home after the clock chimes 12.00  to knock on your door and when you open the door to him he will have a big stone with him, a jug of water and a pomegranate. He places the stone on the floor, pours the water over it and then breaks the pomegranate. This ritual is one to bring good luck to your home for the year ahead. Whilst he is performing the ritual he is also chanting words similar to these: “As heavy as this stone is, may your pockets be from abundance of money….As this water pours, may the happiness and laughter pour into your home….. As the same way the pomegranate seeds spread across your floor may the joy and heath spread across your home.

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wishes for 2015



In 2011 all of Lesbos was declared a UNESCO Geopark due the work of Nikos Zouros of the Museum of Natural History in Sigri in cooperation with numerous government agencies and the Municipality of Lesbos. 

There are just over 90 Geoparks in the world. Geopark designation is given for: “A territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archaeological, ecological or cultural value.”  To keep the designation as a Geopark, the people of Lesbos and their elected leaders must show that they understand the heritage of the island and intend to protect it and make it accessible to tourists. 

Lesbos has been designated a Geopark because of its geological history. Mount Olympos, the mountain where Agiassos is located, was thrust up from under the sea, along with the Alps, about 200 million years ago. This was during the time when the continents split apart from a single continent known as Pangaia.  As Mount Olympos was formed of plankton under the sea, it is made up of soft marl or marble-like rock. 

In contrast the whole Northwest part of the island was created between 22 million and 16 million years ago during massive volcanic explosions that formed the Aegean Sea. At that time Lesbos was connected to the mainland of Asia Minor, from which it separated only about 1 million years ago.  Evidence of the volcanic explosions can also be found across the channel that now separates Lesbos from Turkey.  The village of Assos, in Turkey, which can be seen from Sikamina, is built of the same type of volcanic stone used to build in Molivos.

Mount Lepetemos which towers over Molivos and Petra may have been one of the largest volcanoes the world has ever seen.  Moliovos itself was a small volcanic mountain.  Lava flows can still be seen in many parts of the village.  The stones that were used to build the castle and the traditional buildings in Molivos are porous volcanic stone.

The rock on which the church of Petra was built was a vein of molten rock that was thrusting itself up from under the earth. It never exploded but remained in the center of a small mountain. Over time, the softer rock of the outer part of the mountain wore away, exposing the volcanic core.  The monastery known as Ipsilos at the juncture of the roads to Eressos and Sigri is built on a larger exposed volcanic core.  The village of Vatoussa is at the center of the crater of another very large volcano that exploded many times shaping the island as we know it today.

The volcanoes of Lesbos sometimes sent out masses of lava flow that might have taken as much as 10,000 years to cool.  These flows can be seen in the shapes of the island’s mountains and hills.  Other times the volcanoes threw out large boulders and great clouds of dust.  Everything in the path of lava flows is burned up. But when volcanic dust settles on living things such as trees, their forms may be preserved. In Lesbos the Petrified Forest was created because dust fell at levels of several meters. Our Petrified Forest uniquely has trees still in place in the landscape with their roots, trunks, and even branches, showing exactly where they were living some 20 million years ago.

Visitors can learn more about the geological history of Lesbos in the context of the geological history of the planet at the Museum of Natural History in Sigri. A part of the Petrified Forest has been excavated on the museum grounds.  There are also a series of signs called “The Lava Path” along the road from Filia to Sigri which explain the volcanic landmarks visible from the signposts. They are well-worth stopping to read as they tell an amazing story.

Carol P. Christ (Καρολινα Κριστ) is Vice President of Friends of Green Lesbos which has been working for years to protect the wetlands of Lesbos.  In 2012 she ran for Greek National Parliament on the Green Party ticket in Lesbos-Limnos.

The twenty-two European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) in tourism and the protected areas


Europa- Press Release

Brussels, 8 th of October 2009



Grosse Walsertal Biosphere Park

Located in the heart of the Austrian Alps lies the remarkable Grosse Walsertal Biosphere Park. With such a rich landscape, Grosse Walsertal has it all, whether you’re a walking, gardening or food enthusiast. The Alps rise over 2,700 metres high, parted by fertile farming valleys where everything from herbs, berries and flowers are grown.


Viroin-Hermeton Nature Park

Located south of Charleroi in Belgium’s heartland is the Viroinval Nature Park. This regional jewel offers timeless landscapes and scenery, plant life and wildlife, along with tantalising local cuisine. Perfect for walking, mountain biking, family adventures, cultural festivals or romantic getaways. Marvel at the pristine meadows and farmlands, thick-green forests and rolling hillsides .


Town of Belitsa

Bulgaria’s town of Belitsa, is located in the south-west part of the country within the valley of Razlog. Since it rests on the foothills of the Rila, Pirin and Rhodopes mountains, the town boasts stunning panoramic views, and is home to the largest bear rescue centre in Europe. History lovers can step back into Neolithic times.


Northern Velebit National Park

Situated in the north-western part of Croatia is the Northern Velebit National Park. Located just a few kilometers from the Adriatic Sea, the park unites two different locales, the coastal region and the mountainous zone. Predatory animals such as wildcats, bears and wolves, roam the mountainsides, while deep sinkholes and caves give the park an unparalleled sense of multiplicity.


Vouni Panagias

Resting in the eastern boundaries of the Pafos District rises Cyprus’ Vouni Panagias. Ancient oak trees fill the dense and beautiful Pafos Forest in the mountainous regions, while closer to sea level age-old vineyards and water springs enhance the landscapes’ natural scenery. Extremely rare species of birds and wildlife inhabit the area, known for its walking and hiking trails.

Czech Republic

Bohemian Switzerland

Resting near the German border just inside the Czech Republic is the Bohemian Switzerland Natural Park. Its unique beauty and unmatched landscapes have inspired many great minds such as Kafka, Dvorak and Fridich, to name a few. Rock towers rise from the Earth, while gorges cut and slash their way through valleys leading to ancient castles and ruins.


Soomaa National Park

Located in Transitional Estonia, the Soomaa National Park was established to protect the many large raised bogs, flood plains, forests and meandering rivers. The region is home to Siberian Irises, beavers, cranes, the Ural owl, lynx, wolves and bears. In winter there are snowshoe tours over the bogs and frozen rivers, while in other seasons nighttime canoe tours are available.


Northern Vosges Regional Natural Park

Surrounded by regions such as Alsace, Moselle/Lorraine and the Palatinate in Germany, the Northern Vosges Regional Natural Park has sandstone, hot springs and many water passages. The region is also home to many of the finest glass and crystal makers in the world, while fine restaurants specializing in the region’s unsurpassed tastes are plentiful.


Prefecture of Lesvos

Located in the Northeast Aegean Sea, Lesvos is Greece’s prized possession. The Island combines natural beauty and history in a unique way. An island best known for its beaches, Lesvos is home to some of the most spectacular natural attractions in the world. See fossilized tree-trunks in Lesvos Petrified Forest or go bird watching at the Gulf of Kalloni.


Írottkő Nature Park

Situated in the West Transdanubian region of Hungary rests the Irottko Nature Park. Since the Irottko sits on the foothills of the Alps, the region is known for its varied landscapes and rich, fertile soil. The highest peak in the park , Irottko Mountain, rises 882 meters above sea level and overlooks quaint villages, historical landmarks and spectacular hillside vegetation.


Sheep’s Head Peninsula

Located off Ireland’s southwest coast is jagged Sheep’s Head Peninsula. Despite its rugged terrain, Sheep’s Head is rigged with unrivaled charm and a true hidden gem in Ireland’s vast history. Take a walk on the Sheep’s Head Way, visit forts and monuments such as Lord Bandon’s Folly, and complete your trip by visiting some of the numerous pubs and restaurants.


Protected Marine Area Penisola del Sinis, Italy – Isola di Mal di Ventre

Located in the central western coast of Sardinia, the Protected Marine Area Penisola del Sinis is an area of contrasting landscapes ranging from spectacular coastlines to imposing cliff formations. With timeless scenery, a unique wildlife population, an effervescent local community and fine cuisine, the area offers a peek into an indigenous culture and setting steeped in tradition .


Tervete Nature Park

With a history that dates back to the first millennium BC, Latvia’s Tervete Nature Park, about 75 kilometers to the south of the capital city Riga, is a mystical region filled with a heroic past. A visit to the three castle mounds offers a distinct glimpse into the area’s proud past, and visiting the beautiful Swans Lake is a must.


Nemunas River Delta Regional Park

Lithuania’s natural wonder known as the Nemunas River Delta Regional Park was formed when massive glaciers melted to conclude the Ice Age. What the glaciers carved out and left behind were a series of flooded meadows, rivers, lakes, bogs and the Curonian Lagoon. In this vast region, covering nearly 2,000-square kilometers, water activities reign supreme .


Schengen – “Haff Réimech

Situated on the southeastern-most tip of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Commune of Schengen is comprised of three villages: Remerschen, Schengen and Wintrage. It is a region of tremendous wineries with a major attraction being the 42-kilometer long “Wine Road” which starts on the Luxembourg Moselle river, winding its way through gorgeous lands dotted by wineries .


Mel lieħa and the Hamlet of Manikata

Mellieħa is a rural village situated in the north-western part of the island of Malta. Known for its wonderful sandy beaches, world-class hotels and restaurants, Mellieħa is one of Malta’s most pristine regions. The area is rich in important archaeological sites with the magnificent church being one of Malta’s most-prized pieces.

The Netherland s

Park Gravenrode

Nestled in the southern part of the Netherlands adjacent to the German border in the province of Limburg is the fully transformed Park Gravenrode. Once a dilapidated mining region with little or no nature, the region is quite a contrast to the rest of Holland with rolling hills and rising landscapes and its beauty is just beginning to be untapped.


The Bird Republic in the Warta Mouth

Nestled away in the Warta Mouth National Park lies Poland’s Bird Republic. This special bird sanctuary draws visitors throughout the year due to the great number of birds that make the park their home at various times throughout the year. The park itself is vast, with wetlands, rolling meadows, grasslands and the Warta River carving its way through .


Apuseni Nature Park

Tucked away in western Romania, in the Apuseni Mountains, lies the amazing Apuseni Natural Park. The region boasts green forests, blue waters and white limestone as well as ravines, caves, underground lakes and unique carnivorous wildlife. The remarkable sunsets that this region is named after, along with timeless local charm, make Apuseni a mystical place to visit .



The Solčava district lies at the upper end of the Savinja River and has some of the most beautiful sceneries in the whole of Slovenia. The Alpine scenery is peppered with sites of breathtaking natural beauty, and the three mighty glacial valleys are the highlight of any stay. Hike in Alpine meadows, misty beech forests or banks of wild strawberries.


The Ebro Delta

In the Southern Dis tricts of Cataluña lies Spain’s Ebro Delta Nature Park. Tucked away in the hinterland of three major cities (Barcelona, Valencia and Zaragoza), this region boasts the splendid Terres de L’Ebre, an area of stunning scenery and ecosystems. Hear the wind whistle through the rice paddies, watch rare birds fly by and escape into the tranquility of nature.


Kars – Kuyucuk Lake Wild Life Reserve

In the northeastern corner of Turkey, at an altitude of 1,750 meters lies the region of Kars. This historical area, which dates back to the Lithic Ages (13,000-10,000 BC), sits below the Castle of Kars, a magnificent fortress built in the 12th century. Visit Lake Kuyucuk for a spot of stargazing, or enjoy incredible panoramic views from Satan’s Castle .

More information :

EDEN – European Destinations of Excellence , your gateway to the diversity and beauty of Europe’s non traditional tourist destinations!