The origins of the projectile fight are somewhat murky, but it likely originated in the late 19th century when the island was occupied by the Ottomans.
Two rival parishes battle it out on the night before Orthodox Easter. The goal of the fight is to hit the bell tower of the opposing church.
While the missile melee is going on outside, the more pious residents of the town try to concentrate on mass being said inside the churches.
Injuries during the unorthodox Easter battle are not uncommon and some rocket builders have even been killed when their potent gunpowder mixtures have exploded prematurely. Fires started by wayward missiles are a constant hazard and buildings surrounding the two targets are boarded up and covered with wire nets to protect them. "We can't breathe when it takes place," a resident of Vrodados told the BBC in 2004. "We have to be on standby in case a fire breaks out, because if you are not careful you can even lose your house."
Just why residents of Chios -- located just off the coast of Turkey -- try to blast each other with rockets every year is something of a mystery. One story has it that the custom goes back to the 19th century, when the island was occupied by the Ottomans. The theory has it that the ships on the island were outfitted with cannons to battle off pirates and that ship owners liked to fire their guns to celebrate Easter. When the Ottomans confiscated the cannons in the 1880s, the locals turned to rockets instead.
Nowadays, the Chios rocket battle has turned into something of a spectacle for tourists to the region. Visitors swarm to the island from all over the world and a Reuters video clip of the event ran on hundreds of television stations in 2007.