Quite often, especially in the summer months, the island comes to life with o fair which, in addition to the standard singing and dancing which often goes on for three days and nights, also includes horse and other races as well as processions or cultural events. Among the festivities that attract the largest number of people are the fete of Taxiarchis at Mantamados and the fete of the Bull at Agia Paraskevi.
Characteristic of both are the slaughtering of a bull, a remnant of pre-Christian animal sacrifices, and the horse races. Throughout the night, under the sound of songs “keskeki” (a meat stew with wheat and plenty of cumin) is cooked in large cauldrons over open-air fires and on the following morning it is given out to the pilgrims. A unique day for the island is the 15th of August, the day of the Assumption, which is especially celebrated at Petra and Agiasos. People of all ages from the whole island head uphill, often on foot, to the village, and many of them spend the night out in the open in the church’s courtyard or in the surrounding areas.
Junketing is also at its best during carvinal, especially at Mesotopos, with the “koudounatoi”, (men loaded with cowbells) and at Agiasos where satirical teasing still continues an ancient custom The Ottomans called the island “the orchard of the Empire” because it produced practically everything. Self-sufficient with a long tradition in the love of beauty and the good life, it developed a fine cuisine with well-balanced combinations of taste and aromas. Even in the simple daily food it is certain that the housewife will take care the food looks as good as it tastes.
Meat with quince, staffed lamb, potato and meat stew, spicy meatballs, onion meatballs, vine leaves staffed with rice, zucchini flowers staffed rice or cheese, zucchini balls, onion pies, little cheese pies, sweet smelling homemade pasta, and on the other hand the taste of the sea: fresh fish, scallops or limpets with spinach or rice, octopus with olives, staffed squid, they all have to taste great and look great The desserts of the island are also very interesting: maybe the best marzipan in the country, shaped in forms that bring to mind the elaborate decorations of the ancient column deriving from the acanthus and other leaf forms, Baklava (pastry) with almonds and olive oil scented with mastic and rose water, honey sweet halva made with fresh cheese. Since the people of Lesvos are famous food lovers, it is easy for one to find good food in taverns as well as in the island’s coffee shops.