Have you decided to visit Greece during the Orthodox Easter Period?? You made the right choice and here it is the survival guide! Of course Easter is a great celebration for the Greeks with deeply rooted customs and old traditions.
Orthodox churches base their Easter date on the Julian calendar, which often differs from the Gregorian calendar that is used by many western countries.
All over the Holy week Faithful Greeks go to church but the celebrations are taking a high point on Holy Thursday, when the traditional Easter bread, aka tsoureki, is baked, and eggs are dyed red, which symbolize the color of life as well as a representation of the blood of Christ. Holy Thursday evening, church services include a symbolic representation of the crucifixion, and the period of mourning begins. All cities and the majority of villages women will stay in church throughout the night, in traditional mourning and decoration the epitaph.
Good Friday starts with the Deposition from the cross and Christ’s burial. On this day the devout Christians are supposed not to eat anything, not to cook and not to clean. The Epitaph ceremony takes place in the evening and then people join the procession on its way through the streets of every city and single village listening to chanters psalms in a mystic atmosphere.
In every church in Greece, Holy Saturday starts with the ceremony of the first Resurrection and at every home begun the preparations for the festive dinner on Saturday night and for the next day’s Easter feast. The traditional mayiritsa soup is prepared, which will be eaten after the midnight service, to break the fast. The midnight Service of the Resurrection is an occasion attended by everyone, including children, each holding a Special candle made for Easter are called “labada” (lah-BAH-thah), given as gifts to children from their Godparents. These candles can be decorated with favorite children’s heroes or beautiful ornaments. Usually crowds are massive in Saturday evening ceremony, shortly before midnight, curches turn off theis lightsa and lit only by the Eternal Flame which passes from person to person. . When the clock passes midnight, the Priest calls out “Christos Anesti” (Christ is risen) and The night air is filled with the singing of “Christos Anesti,” and wishes are exchanged. As soon as “Christos Anesti” is called out, church bells ring joyously non-stop, ships in ports all over Greece sound their horns, floodlights are lit on large buildings, and great and small displays of fireworks are set off. The sight of people leaving church service with candle flames on that night is beautiful. Once home, everyone gathers around the table for a traditional meal to break the fast, which includes the mayiritsa soup, tsoureki, and the red eggs. But before the eggs are eaten, there’s a traditional challenge: ” the tsouggrisma.” Holding your egg, you tap the end against the end of your opponent’s egg, trying to crack it. It’s a game enjoyed by children and adults. Eggs are often made in very large quantities since the game continues on the next day with more friends and family.
On Easter Sunday celebrations reach their peak. In some parts of the country lamb is rosated but in the majority of the regions lamb or kid is prepared on the spit. The atmosphere is festive- full of joy and excitement! The Easter tables are set and people , eat and drink with their family until late at night.
Some of the most famous destinations to visit through the Easter are: Corfu, Chios, Patmos, Syros, Mykonos, Monemvasia.
Do you want to celebrate Easter like the Greeks but want more information. Feel free to ask us anything you want!
The eurekAthens team!