Enjoy a traditional Greek Easter in Greece in 2018.
Greek Easter Sunday falls on 8th April 2017 - just perfect for a nice break in the sun. Come and enjoy the traditional celebrations in the lovely village of Amaliapolis. In early May the weather is invariably pleasantly warm and wild flowers are springing up everywhere. It is a wonderful time to visit Amaliapolis.
Easter is a major religious festival in Greece and many people return to their village or area of origin to celebrate it with their extended families.
Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday has many traditions associated with it and religious people fast (abstain from easting meat and fish) and go to church each evening. You will be welcome to wander into the Church at any time and also to attend any of the services.
Tuesday, housewives make sweet rolls, the koulourakia,
and the following day they give the house an extra spring clean, while in the evening
follow the blessing of Holy Oil that takes place in church.
Thursday is the day for dyeing hardboiled eggs red. This was triditionally done using onion skins, but now red food colouring is used! In the evening,
after the reading of the 12 Gospels, the women undertake the decoration
bier of Christ (epitaphios) with garlands of white and purple flowers,
so that in the morning of Good Friday it is ready to receive the
image of the body of Christ when He is taken down from the cross.
Friday is a day of mourning. The drama of
the death of Christ is followed with great devoutness.
Sweet things are not eaten-for
the love of Christ, who was given vinegar to drink. Soup
made with sesame-paste, lettuce or lentils with vinegar
is the food eaten on
this day. It is considered a great sin to work with a
hammer or nails or sew on Good Friday.
- The evening Church service on Good Friday is followed by the procession of the bier
(representing Christ's funeral). In some places a band or choir playing
or singing solemn music precedes the procession; they are followed
by the cantors, the clergy, women bearing myrrh, the altar boys carrying
the liturgical fans, scouts and guides, and the people of the village,
who sing the hymns throughout the procession. All along its route,
people may scatter flowers and perfumes on the epitaphios (bier), holding
lighted candles in their hands. The procession goes form the Church through the village to the square and back to the Church.
- On Holy
Saturday evening, the Resurrection mass (Anastasi
=resurrection, the Resurrection of Jesus) takes place.
At midnight the ceremony of lighting of candles is the most significant
moment of the year. Everyone goes to Church taking an unlit candle with them and at midnight in all churches in Greece, and wherever in the world there is a Greek Orthodox Church, the lights are extinguished and then the priest comes out with one lighted candle to symbolise the resurrection and this light is passed from one person to another until everyone's candle is lit. At midnight
at the moment of the resurrection all the families who have gone to
church together turn to each other and their friends and nieghbours and everybody
kisses everybody and says 'Christos anesti, Christos
anesti, Christ has risen, indeed He has risen. And it's a very
touching moment.The Church is always packed and overflowing with people who stand outside and listen to the service which is broadcast to them. Afterwards people carefully take home their lighted candles
with the holy light of the Resurrection. Before entering their houses
they make a cross with the smoke of the candle on top of the door,
they light the oil candle before their icon-stand (if they have one), and try to keep
this light burning throughout the year. They then break their fast and eat a traditional meat based soup called mayiritsa. There are often fireworks after midnight and noisy celebrations.
- On Easter Sunday everyone gets together with their families and it is traditional to roast a lamb or goat on the spit in the garden or in any open space and have a leisurely lunch.
The weather could well be warm and sunny and there are many beautiful wild flowers in the countryside around the village. All in all its a great time to visit and experience a traditional Greek Easter.