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Learning English - Words in the News
06 April, 2007 - Published 09:00 GMT
Greek crackdown on Easter fireworks
Parthenon, Athens - an ancient Greek temple
Parthenon, Athens

Greek police are taking strong action to stop the illegal use of fireworks during this weekend's Orthodox Easter celebrations. This is to help prevent injuries and deaths, but it's expected that millions of people will still disobey the law. Malcolm Brabant reports from Athens:

Listen to the story

Firecrackers and rockets may be illegal, but they are as much a part of Greek Easter as roast lamb. As soon as priests say “Christ has risen” at midnight on Easter Saturday, congregations file out of church with hand-held candles to break their fast with mayeritsa, or tripe soup, and the air resounds to the sound of explosions.

On the Aegean island of Chios, there are the rocket wars, where rival parishioners fire thousands of home made fireworks at each other's church bell towers. The team with the most strikes wins. This tradition began more than two hundred years ago and Chiotes have declared that they have no intention of being defeated by the health and safety rules which the authorities are trying to impose.

During last year's festivities, eleven people were injured nationwide and four have died in the past seven years. This has not deterred Greeks from buying fireworks from under-the-counter from neighbourhood shops. But, there may be a shortage in Athens this Easter. A sixty-eight year old dealer had his warehouse raided this week and the police confiscated nearly a million and a quarter bangers, rockets and firecrackers. His hopes of making a fast buck, went up in smoke .

Malcolm Brabant, BBC News, Athens

Listen to the words

congregations file out
all the people who have met in the same building to worship and pray, leave the building at the same time

to break their fast
to end the period of time when they haven't been eating any food

the stomach of a sheep, cow, pig, or ox which is used as food

rival parishioners
people who worship at different churches and compete against each other

stopped, discouraged, prevented

goods that are for sale but are kept 'under-the-counter' are not visible and are only known about by certain customers, e.g. because there aren't many of them or they're illegal, as is the case with fireworks in Greece

a large building where raw materials or goods for sale are stored

took away, siezed

making a fast buck,
earning a quick profit, getting lots of money in a short space of time

up in smoke
completely destroyed, ruined, spoilt

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