Easter in Greece: A Celebration of Tradition, Faith, and Joycallisto
With the word Easter we describe the two weeks period between the Resurrection of Lazaros and the Sunday of Thomas. Easter is considered to be the biggest celebration of Christianity and the preparations begin long before the Easter Holidays.
Below we share with you some of the traditions Greek have on Easter days.
This is a kind of forgotten Greek tradition. This female figure has seven legs, each of them representing a week of Lent. If you notice carefully you will see that she has no mouth, indicating that she can’t eat due to fasting. Every Saturday in order to mark down the weeks to the Holy Sunday one of her legs would be cut off. She comes in the form of a small paper drawing that the kids used to paint in school or a baked dough.
The buns of Holy Thursday
Throughout Greece on the morning of this day the kneading would begin. They decorate the buns with strips of dough and nuts. Back in the days, depending of the shape they were given, they were called different names such as ‘’doxaria’’, ‘’stalks’’ or ‘’kozunokia’’.
Some believe that the eggs are dyed red in remembrance of Christ’s blood but this may not be the case since red is the color of joy, joy for the Resurrection of Christ. In many parts of Greece they used to hang red velenza (blanket) or red handkerchiefs.
Epitaphios is a type of elaborate, embroidered shroud used in the Eastern Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Churches to commemorate the burial of Jesus Christ. It is typically used in the Good Friday and Holy Saturday liturgies. The Epitaphios is typically a large, decorated cloth that is carried in procession and then placed on the altar during the liturgy, symbolizing the tomb of Christ. It is often richly embroidered with scenes from the Passion of Christ and decorated with flowers, and is considered to be a sacred object by many Orthodox Christians.
It’s a day of solemnity and mourning, marked by religious services in churches. Many Greek Orthodox Christians attend the midnight resurrection service, which is known as the “Anastasi” and celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. During the service, the church is often decorated with flowers and candles, and participants light their own candles to symbolize the light of Christ. After the service, families often gather for a meal, and children often receive special treats and gifts to celebrate the Easter season.
Easter Sunday is a time of great celebration and joy for Greeks, who see it as a time to come together with family and friends to give thanks for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some of the traditional celebrations include:
- Resurrection services: Many Greek Orthodox Christians attend midnight resurrection services on Easter Sunday, which celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
- Feast of Lamb: A traditional feast is held on Easter Sunday, often featuring roasted lamb as the main dish.
- Egg cracking: A popular game where participants crack decorated eggs against each other, and the person with the unbroken egg is said to have good luck for the coming year. On the night of Resurrection we crack the eggs saying Χριστός Ανέστη: “Christ resurrected” and reply by saying Αληθώς Ανέστη: “Yes, Christ truly resurrected”
- Fireworks: Fireworks are a common sight on Easter Sunday in Greece, often adding to the festive atmosphere.
- Blessing of Foods: The head of the household will take the food that has been blessed by a priest to the table and all will enjoy a special meal together.