Traditional Easter in Greece
Easter week in Greece
Easter is the greatest Christian celebration in Greece. Across the country it is the most important religious holiday of the Orthodox Church accompanied with traditions and customs that date back to time. While there are many unique local customs, there are of course some that are observed by all Greeks.
Preparations start to take place such as “tsoureki” (traditional sweet bread) baking and housewives dye red eggs that symbolize Christ’s blood and the rebirth of life. In the evening all churches include a symbolic representation of the crucifixion and the reading of the twelve gospels. After the service women gather to decorate the Epitaph with fresh spring flowers and the mourning time begins.
Church bells ring mournfully all day and food is very simple as this is the most important fast day of the Holy Week. In the evening a funeral service is held and the Epitaph is carried on the shoulders of the faithful in a procession through the community followed by all people holding candles.
The Eternal Flame arrives to Greece by military jet and priests carry it to their churches. The service starts at 23:00 and people start to gather at their local churches holding the “labatha” (a big candle) that is only used for that Easter midnight service. A few minutes before midnight people and priests gather outside the church and exactly on midnight priests call out “Christos Anesti” (Christ is risen) and passes the holy flame to those nearest him and one passes to another. Fireworks begin to light up the sky and people exchange traditional Easter wishes (“Christos Anesti – Christ is risen and in response, “Alithos Anesti” – truly, He is risen). It is custom to carry the Holy flame back home and smoke the doorframe to bless the house. Once home, family and friends gather to eat the traditional soup “maghiritsa” and crack red eggs that symbolize the opening of the tomb.
Earlier on Easter Sunday, the spits are set to work, and grills are fired up. Easter tables are prepared and family and friends celebrate with a meal that includes a whole roasted lamb or goat (kid) prepared on the spit or baked in the oven. Usually in villages covered in spring colors. Great Greek wines, tsipouro, and other drinks flow freely, and preparations for the meal turn into festive celebrations even before the eating begins.
Visit Greece during easter time and book a hike or bike tour.
With us you will discover the tradition of the greek eastern.