Despite Greece’s coronavirus lockdown, Corfiots marked Holy Saturday with the tradition of “Botides”, where large clay jugs filled with water are thrown from the balconies of homes in the centre of town, smashing into pieces on the streets below.
Normally thousands from around the world gather around to watch the tradition, however this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event took place without any crowds.
The symbolism is to create an ‘earthquake’ like which occurred following the first Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The clay jugs have a narrow mouth and two handles on the side for carrying.
One of the pots thrown this year read «Στάχτι και μπαρούτι ο κορωνοϊός» (Ash and gunpowder coronavirus).
It is believed that the custom would help ward off bad spirits.
How did the tradition start?
The noisy custom derived from the Venetians, who on New Year’s Day, would throw their old things from the windows in the hopes of receiving new ones for the next year.
The Corfiots adopted the tradition, applying it to the most important day in their calendar, Greek Easter. As the years have gone by, old things have been replaced by pots and jugs of water, which make for an even louder noise upon impact.
It is even thought that the peculiar custom may have roots in the biblical passage “Thou, O Lord, raise me up, that I may crush them as a potter’s vessel.”