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Greek Easter traditions

Greece ● 16 April 2017
 

Easter is the most important and sacred religious festivity in Greece. Due to the strong Greek orthodox faith, the preparations and customs of Easter remain a tradition in modern Greek life that everyone follows. If you spend your holidays in Greece during Easter, you will surely be impressed by the atmosphere and the religious aura that is a vital part of these days.

Holy Week, between Palm Sunday and Easter, is an opportunity for the Greek people to feel close to God, pray and spend some time with their families. On Holy Thursday, the preparations of Easter begin. Tsoureki, the traditional Easter sweet bread, is baked, and eggs are dyed red, because the red colour represents the blood of Christ. This is the reason why the eggs are dyed red on this day, the day of Crucifixion. At afternoon of Holy Thursday, the churches represent the Crucifixion, and the period of mourning begins. After the church, the Greeks eat with their families seafood, because meat and dairy products are prohibited during Lent according to the fast.


On Holy Friday, which is considered a day of mourning and it is also official holiday, flags are hung at half-mast, and the bells ring all day in a slow, lugubrious tone. The tradition says that on Holy Friday, the housewives should not cook. In the big cities, all restaurants are of course open, but the fast imposes food without oil, so the Greek people eat seafood, like grilled shrimps and octopus. Women and children take flowers to the Epitaph of Christ, which at the afternoon, is carried on the shoulders of the most faithful men in a procession to the cemetery and back, while people follow holding candles.

Candles

On Holy Saturday, begin the preparations for the feast of next day. At night, everyone goes to the church, where at 12 o'clock, the Resurrection of Christ is represented. The Eternal Flame is brought to Greece by aeroplane and is distributed to the waiting priests. Everyone in the church, carries a white candle, and the priest passes the flame, the light of the Resurrection, until the church and its courtyard are glowing with flickering candlelight. For the children, special candles, called lampada, are lavishly decorated and given to them as a gift from their godparents. Bells ring joyously, everyone kisses each other, people are happy, fireworks are set off, and the wishes Christos Anesti (=Christ is risen) and Alithos Anesti (truly, He is risen) are called out. The Eternal Flame is brought home, and a man makes with the flame the sign of the cross, which is believed to bless the home.

Red eggs

Once home, everyone gathers around the table, eating the traditional Greek Easter soup, mayiritsa, the eggs and the lamb. Before the eggs are eaten, there is a traditional challenge, called tsougrisma. You hold your egg and tap its end against the end of your opponent's egg trying to crack it. On Easter Sunday, continues the game of tsougrisma. The main focus on this day is food due to the long fast of Lent that is finally over. Families gather, eat and drink together, and the feast lasts till night. The attraction of Easter is the roasted lamb, which is eaten together with mayiritsa, eggs, cheese pie, potatoes and yoghourt dip.

Where to Stay

Hotel in Chalkidiki, Greece Hotel Aeollos
Hotel Aeollos
Pefkohori, 63085 Chalkidiki, Greece

Hotel Aeollos is located in popular Pefkohori village, just 50 m from the long, sandy beach. The lively resort of Polichrono is 8 km away from Pefkohori. Thessaloniki Airport Makedonia is at 95 km, while the center of Thessaloniki is at 105 km.

Hotel in Zakynthos, Greece Andreolas Beach Hotel
Andreolas Beach Hotel
Laganas, 29092 Zakynthos, Greece

With its great location right on the sandy beach of Laganas, Andreolas Beach Hotel offers accommodation in bright rooms just 10 minutes walk from the lively center of Laganas. Zakynthos Airport is at 6 km, while the main town and the port is 8 km away.

Hostel in Athens, Greece Student and Travellers Inn
8.9 10
Student and Travellers Inn
16, Kidathinaion str., 10558 Athens, Greece

Student and Travellers Inn – the first hostel in Greece since 1977 is located in the heart of Plaka, right below the Acropolis. Traditional cobbled streets full of taverns, shops, cafes are right at our hostel's doorstep. The main square of Athens, Syntagma, is at 600 m, while the lively Monastiraki square is at 800 m. The nearest metro station and the bus stop for the X95 Airport Bus can be reached within a 7-minute walk.


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