News & activities of the area
The importance of oranges for the local economy is illustrated by the celebration on November 21 of the feast of Panaghia Portokalousa (lit. 'Holy Virgin of the Oranges'). On this day, local people take the year’s new oranges to church to be blessed.
They also show their more playful side by engaging in what is known locally as portokalopolemos (lit. 'orange battle'), when they pelt each other with the fruit. If there is a wedding on the day, oranges are also thrown at the newlyweds, along with rice and roses!
In Messenia, guests have the opportunity to experience the olive harvest at first hand. Taking part in the harvest offers insight into an age-old tradition that simply cannot be gained from a book. And apart from the valuable learning experience, a good time is guaranteed.
The traditional method of collecting the olives is preferred, which involves laying nets around each tree to collect the olives that fall to the ground. Long sticks are then used to strike the branches and knock off any 'stubborn' olives. Branches that are heavily laden with olives are cut off and the fruits are removed by gentle beating with a smaller stick.
All the olives are then gathered in the centre of each net in small piles, from which any leaves and twigs are removed with a rake. The olives are then placed in plastic buckets or sacks, loaded onto a tractor and taken to the olive press.