The Easter Rocket War of Vrontados

Every Easter, in the Greek village of Vrontados, members of rival churches sitting across a small valley stage a "rocket war" by firing thousands of homemade rockets towards each other while services are held. The objective for each side is to strike the bell of the opposing church. The festival, called Rouketopolemos, has been celebrated by the churches of Agios Markos and Panagia Erithiani for at least 125 years, its exact origins a mystery. Gathered here are images of this rocket war from the past few years.
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1. Rockets fly over bell tower of Agios Markos church during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations on the eastern Aegean island of Chios on April 26, 2008. Two rival parishes of Vrontados village fire thousands of rockets every Easter Saturday aiming at the opposing church's bell tower in a centuries-old tradition.




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2. Yannis, left, and Stavros, right, load handmade rockets on a truck, in front of Agios Markos church, on the Aegean island of Chios, on April 19, 2014.




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3. Rockets are arranged before being fired at the Panagia Erithiani church during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations on the Aegean island of Chios, on April 19, 2014.




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4. Hand-made rockets are prepared before being fired at the Agios Markos church during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations in Vrontados on April 26, 2008.




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5. A participant fires a rocket against the target, the Panagia Erithiani church, from a launching platform in the village of Vrontados on April 19, 2014.




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6. A woman walks out of her screen-protected home during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations in Vrontados village, on April 26, 2008.




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7. People ignite homemade rockets during aimed at a rival church in Vrontados on April 19, 2014.




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8. A youth ignites homemade rockets during a traditional Easter celebration in Vrontados on April 19, 2014.




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9. Rockets fly through the sky targeting the churches of Agios Markos, left, and Panagia Erithiani, right, during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations on April 19, 2014.




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10. Homemade rockets streak through the sky targeting a church of Panagia Erithiani on April 19, 2014.




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11. A rocket strikes the bell tower of Agios Markos church on April 26, 2008.




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12. Rockets fly over the church of Agios Markos as worshippers hold candles during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations on the eastern Aegean island of Chios, on April 19, 2014 in Vrontados, Greece.




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13. A youth ignites homemade rockets during Easter celebrations in Vrontados on April 19, 2014.




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14. Young men ignite rockets during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations on the island of Chios on April 19, 2014.




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15. Rockets fly towards the church of Agios Markos during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations on April 19, 2014.




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16. Homemade rockets streak through the sky above Vrontados on April 19, 2014.




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17. A man ignites rockets in Vrontados on April 19, 2014.




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18. Rockets fly over the bell towel of Panagia Erithiani church on April 19, 2014.




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19. Rockets fly over Vrontados village on April 26, 2008, as rival parishes of the village fire thousands of rockets at each other.




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20. A reveler looks on during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations in Vrontados on April 19, 2014.




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21. Revelers ignite rockets during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations on April 19, 2014 in Vrontados, Greece.




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22. Homemade rockets streak through the sky targeting the church of Panagia Erithiani, on April 19, 2014.




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23. Participants ignite homemade rockets in the village of Vrontados late on April 19, 2014.




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24. Young men launch rockets during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations on the Aegean island of Chios on April 19, 2014.




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25. Rockets fly over Panagia Erithriani church on April 26, 2008.




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26. A woman walks near scores of burned-out homemade rockets on the ground, and stuck in a protective metal fence at Panagia Erithiani church, following a traditional Easter celebration the night before in Vrontados, on April 20, 2014.