Party animals 

(Photo: internet; credits Ervis Zika)

I hate them, those six legged attackers, who force me to clean thoroughly each time I take a bite of food. They control my house and especially the kitchen, but they also make excursions to the bathroom and bedrooms. Ants, probably take the first place in the Top 10 Most Annoying Animals of Lesvos. From pretty big monsters to barely visible bullies that think that they can eat my bread without me finding out.  

Especially, in this month of parties and festivities, they are, just like tourists, stubbornly present and you would even think that they are serious festival goers, and secretly enjoy ants concerts in your front garden. Although their swarming and dragging of corn looks more like they are participating in the Olympic Games, a sportive festival that in ancient times blocked wars so that everybody could have a safe travel to the games. 

Yes indeed, in those ancient times people traveled and more than one festival caused temporary population movements. Thanks to the merry god Dionysus, who made vines sprout out of the earth and whereafter wine flowed. While spreading wine drinking over the earth he was followed by a growing mass of people creating a happy chaotic festivity.

Athens was famous for its parties, like the Panathanaic festival, where in a huge colourful procession, nobles, servants, soldiers, priests, carts and sacrificial animals filed through the city to the Acropolis, and where men for sport jumped on and off driving carts. This procession is depicted on the famous Parthenon frieze of which 50 meters is in the Acropolis museum and another 80  

in the British Museum in London. There was also the Kronia festival (later the notorious Roman Saturnalia), a day when slaves were free and served by their masters and games and dinners were communal. Equally famous were the many days of the Mystery of Eleusis, a festival based on the myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone. Only people initiated to the festival were admitted and it was secret what happened behind the closed doors.

In ancient times Athens counted 120 festival days a year and Lesvos also had plenty. From the Roman times it is known that Julia, daughter of the great Roman emperor August, waited on Lesvos for her warrior husband Agrippa and while waiting participated in the rituals of a Mystery Women Festival, where she had to spend some days in a hut with a young man!

Today Lesvos may even have more festivities than the Greek capital. Beginning with the fact that each village or town annually throws a party for its patron saint. As do the monasteries and churches. And so it can happen that in the middle of nowhere, high in the mountains, on a terrace of a freshly whitened church, you may find a loud celebrating crowd.

Most festivals without a religious base take place in the summer months July and August, like the Lesvos Food Festival, the International Music Festival of Molyvos, the Ouzo Festival of Plomari and the Sardine Festival of Kalloni. Yoga classes will pop up everywhere, the Arion Guitar Festival sounds off in Molyvos; Sigri brought not only music and food but also an art festival and traditional dancers had plenty of work. A laughing Barbie reigned over the open air cinema, local taverns were busy with traditional concerts, while in Mytilini famous Greek artists amused the people on some of the bigger stages. In Chios they were jealous of the busy cultural summer agenda of Lesvos.  

Masses of people hurried to the events, like ants to a drop of honey. But we have finally reached the summer summit as the last white sails of the Aegean Regatta disappear over the horizon. Slowly the Greek and Turkish tourists will leave the island and the parkings lots will empty. I wonder if the ants too will leave my house. 

Ants can become a plague, too much tourists as well. From September onwards in Athens ‘only’ 20,000 people a day are permitted to climb the Acropolis. In Amsterdam they are starting to think about banning the big cruise ships from their harbours. As long as those colossal floating amusement palaces do not pour thousands of tourists through the narrow streets of Molyvos, Lesvos has nothing to complain about. Although the past weeks streets, beaches and terraces were overcrowded with people: so tourists can also show ant behaviour. The more honey you lure them with, the more they are coming.