Vintage Photos from the Greek Island Where People 'Forget to Die'
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Vintage Photos from the Greek Island Where People 'Forget to Die'

Ikaria has an amazingly high number of centenarians, and one in three people on the island make it deep into their nineties in perfect health.
5.8.16

60s girls enjoying their summer. All photos courtesy of Christos Malachias via ikariamag.gr

This article originally appeared on VICE Greece

A few years ago, a friend told me about a Greek island where the population grows really, really old. As one spry local told the The New York Times, people in Ikaria "forget to die". The island has an amazingly high number of centenarians and one in three people on the island make it deep into their nineties in perfect health.

My friend booked us ferry tickets and when we got there, we asked some old ladies about the key to their longevity as soon as we had the chance. "Don't worry too much, drink red wine and eat honey," they adviced. Which I did. I camped out in the wild, swam in beautiful waters, went to festivals in the villages, drank copious amounts of red wine and danced to reggae in the moonlight with the Ikarians – and I'm entirely convinced everyone could be doing this well into their nineties.

Annons

Ikariamag.gr, the local site for the island, collects photos of the island through the years from Ikarian residents. One of those residents is Christos Malachias, who has a massive family photo archive going back more than 60 years, which he allowed me dig through. His photos show his family and friends enjoying the lifestyle that has helped the Ikarians to grow so incredibly old.

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A festival in the village of Panagia in mid-August, 1968.

A lorry on its way to a festival celebrating the Assumption of Mary in the village of Lagada in 1968.

Between 1938 and 1954, many leftist exiles were sent to Ikaria and they were hosted by the Ikarian locals in villages like Raches, Gyaliskari, Armenistis and Nas.

Students of the Ikaria Secondary School carrying stones for the football stadium in Agios Kirikos, in the early 1950s.

Zacharogiannos with his taxi in Agios Kirikos in 1953.

"Zefkin" is the Ikarian term for partying until the morning with snacks, wine and music.

Everyone cooking together before the feast of the Virgin Mary in Akamatra.

Boating in Armenistis in 1946.

In the 1960s, the island attracted a lot of young people, who would camp there for months on end.

At an Ikarian party you will sing, dance, drink and eat some boiled or roasted goat.

A ferry leaving Ikaria at the port of Karkinagri in the 1980s.

A booze-fuelled rager in Agios Kirikos, in 1960.