An incredible tradition in the village of Karytaina, located in Arcadia in central Peloponnese will come to life after midnight of December 5. The custom, which dates back to the middle ages when the Greeks were under the Ottoman yoke, involves an after-midnight liturgical service in the Byzantine Church of Saint Nickolas located in the old Frankish castle.
The church was erected in the 11th century AD and neither the Ottoman nor the Frankish Knights, who had conquered the region, desecrated or destroyed the temple. According to historical sources, the Ottomans would allow the locals to worship inside the Church on the day of celebration for St. Nicholas under the condition that the religious services would only take place during nighttime.
The rule warned the Christians that if they were found to be inside the church at the dawn of light, all the worshipers would be killed on the spot and the temple razed to the ground. After many years the tradition of the night church services will be revived, in an effort to keep the past memories of Karytaina alive.
The reverent liturgy will commence in the early hours of December 6 and will last until just before dawn. Devout locals will gather in the medieval castle and take part in the ceremony with a strong sense of historical continuity paying homage to their ancestors who kept the flickering light of their Orthodox Christian faith alive and true despite all the odds being stacked against them.