Chios New Years’ Eve Ship Models

Photo credits: Tolis Floukas

Chios New Years’ Eve Ship Models

Happy 2021! New Year’s Eve and the first day of the year are celebrated everywhere of Greece, with local carols, homemade desserts and different customs, depending on the region. One common custom all over Greece, besides the decorated Christmas trees, are decorated ship models, as Greece is a naval country. In Chios, one of the most amazing Greek islands, with long maritime history and tradition, ships’ decoration is nowadays a festive event!

Local customs
The custom of Ship Models
The history
The Ship Models
Happy New Year
Photo credits: George Passas

Local customs

Happy 2021! New Year’s Eve and the first day of the year are celebrated everywhere of Greece, with local carols, homemade desserts and different customs, depending on the region. One common custom all over Greece, besides the decorated Christmas trees, are decorated ship models, as Greece is a naval country. In Chios, one of the most amazing Greek islands, with long maritime history and tradition, ships’ decoration is nowadays a festive event!

The Custom of the Ship Models

The custom started from the ships, that local sailors (as the majority of the residents were sailors) always decorated in their homes, as a tribute to shipping. At the beginning of the 20th century and after Chios liberation in 1912, young students of the city's schools began to make small replicas of warships as a gesture of honour and memory to the liberation fleet. Over the years, children began to collaborate with each other and build ship models, with impressive results. The children’ competition for the biggest and most impressive ship began. Accompanied by music and songs "plagues", as they call them (local festive verses and words that they wrote themselves), ship models were presented to Chios citizens. Later in the 70’s the Tourist Club of Chios transformed this event to become a custom competition for the best ship model. Since then, in New Year's Eve, Santa Claus ships of Chios are presented with impressive results.

Photo credits: Tolis Floukas

The history behind

New Year or Santa Claus ships or “steamers”, as they usually call them, is a custom that is revived every New Year's Eve in Chios. As a naval island, Chios honours its sailors and the Greek fleet. The custom takes place in the main square; the protagonists are groups of children from different neighborhoods and their ship models. Each team works for months before New Year's Eve to build a warship or merchant ship model, that is almost real.

Photo credits: Tolis Floukas
Photo credits: Tolis Floukas

The Ship models

The material used is usually wood and together with the construction of the ship the children of each group prepare the "plagues". These are poems that are similar to carols and contain wishes for the houses of sailors and satire of the time, usually for political issues. Each group, consisting of the captain and the crew, presents its ship model and begins to sing the plagues. The best group is nominated and then, carrying the decorated ship model, goes around the neighborhoods and fills the atmosphere with festive melodies.

Happy New Year from Chios

If you love genuine Greek customs, visit Chios in New Year’s time and mingle with the locals during this unique event. I wish each and every one of you a happy and prosperous New Year, full of health, love and happiness.

I wish Chios a prosperous 2021, with calm seas and impressive ship models!

Happy New Year!

Photo credits: Tolis Floukas