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Greek Easter

Updated on January 27, 2016
Carolina Crete profile image

Carolina lives on the Greek island of Crete, has published a guide book, and runs a website about living in Crete.

Easter in Greece

Easter in Greece is the biggest holiday of the year and is even more important than Christmas, with week-long celebrations and traditions.

The Greek Orthodox Church plays a large role in the Greek Easter 'Paska' or ' Pascha' celebrations.

Greek Orthodox Easter usually falls one to five weeks after the western (Protestant, Catholic) Easter, while approximately once every four years it falls on the same date.

In 2016 Greek Orthodox Easter falls on Sunday May 1st, five weeks after western Easter.

Greek Easter Food

Mageiritsa Easter Soup

A soup made with boiled lamb offal - liver, heart and intestines, flavoured with onions, dill, thyme and lemon.

Koulourakia

Sweet Easter biscuits

Tsoureki

A braided sweet bread.

Kalitsounia (Crete)

Soft cheese, wrapped in filo pastry and baked in the oven.

Red Eggs

Hard boiled eggs are dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ

Red Eggs

Image http://www.flickr.com/photos/abbyladybug/
Image http://www.flickr.com/photos/abbyladybug/

Easter Game with the Red Eggs

A Greek Easter tradition is the game tsougrisma ( knocking together). Those who have played conkers will find that it's very similar!

Two players take a red egg each. One player holds their egg in a fist while the other player taps the end of their egg against the end of the other player's egg. The egg which cracks is the loser. The winning egg goes on to play with other players / eggs.

The last player to keep their egg intact is the winner.

Greek Easter around the Islands

Many Greek Islands have their own additional Greek Easter traditions. Some traditions even vary from village to village.

In Crete children make an effigy of Judas which they burn on a huge bonfire outside the church after the Saturday midnight service.

In Corfu the "Pot Throwing" custom takes place on Holy Saturday at 11am and the local people throw pots out of their windows, smashing them onto the streets below.

On the island of Tilos, the candles are dyed red with dye from a local root.

Easter Feast

Roasting lamb on Easter Sunday
Roasting lamb on Easter Sunday

Greek Easter Traditions

There are many traditions in Greece revolving around Easter and the week leading up to Easter plays a major role in these. This week is known as Holy Week or 'Megali Evdomada' (literally meaning the Big Week).

Throughout Holy Week the churches hold services at least once a day. Traditionally the people fast and no meat, oil or dairy products are eaten until midnight on Easter Saturday, after the symbolic Ressurection.

Holy Monday - Megali Deftera

The first day of Holy Week. People go to church and kiss the icon of Christ.

Holy Tuesday - Megali Triti

A day of mourning. The women bake Easter biscuits "koulouraki' with oil and eggs, to be eaten after the fast is over on Saturday.

Holy Wednesday - Megali Tetarti

A special church service for worshippers to be blessed with oil. All household chores must be finished today.

Holy Thursday - Megali Pempti

Communion services in church start early morning today and churchgoers bow before Christ on the Cross. The women dye eggs red to symbolise the blood of Christ, and bake Easter bread - Tsoureki. These will be placed on the Easter table to be eaten after Saturday.

Holy Friday - Megali Paraskevi

The most sacred day of Holy Week and is a day of mourning. The church bells ring the death knell all morning. Girls decorate the Epitafio - the funeral bier and a service is held for Christ's funeral. Today is a day of rest for women and men are forbidden to play cards. At dusk the Epitafio is paraded through the village or town streets with a quiet processon in tow. This is a sombre parade.

Holy Saturday - Megalo Savvato

The church once again holds a service in the morning, and the church is filled with flowers. In the villages men slaughter lambs for Easter Sunday. The women bake cheese pies - kalitsounia. In Crete children make an efigy of Judas to burn on bonfires later at the midnight celebration.

The Midnight Easter Service & The Resurrection - Saturday Night

The Anastasi, the Resurrection, takes place at midnight and is the culmination
of Holy Week. The whole of Greece, it seems, attends church for the midnight
service and the lighting of the Holy Flame. The Priest passes the Holy Flame throughout the congregation and all light a candle with cries of Christos Anesti!- Christ is Risen. Fireworks are then let off in celebration. The people take their lit candles home and make the sign of a cross with the black from the candle flame in the doorway of their homes before entering.

The breaking of the Fast takes place now, at midnight after the church service people go home to eat Mageiritsa - a meat soup made with offal, plus the red eggs and kalitsounia.


Easter Sunday - Kyriaki tou Paska

Families and friends meet up for the Easter Day roasting of lamb outside on a spit and a big celebration party with food, wine, music and dancing all day long. Kalo Paska! Happy Easter.

Do you know of any other local Greek Easter traditions specific to an area?

Please add comments below!

Comments

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    • profile image

      niko 

      6 years ago

      kalo paska se olous!!!! yay greek food.. poli nostima

    • profile image

      eugenia 

      6 years ago

      i love GREECE EASTER!!!!!!!!! i love GREECE!!!!!

    • Carolina Crete profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolina Crete 

      8 years ago from Crete, Greece

      The red egg game is called 'tsougrisma'. Happy Easter to all!

    • profile image

      whatever 

      8 years ago

      nice but what is the red egg game called?

    • theirishobserver. profile image

      theirishobserver. 

      8 years ago from Ireland

      excellent hub - red eggs - I don't know about that - hope you are well and keep on hubbing..

    • theirishobserver. profile image

      theirishobserver. 

      8 years ago from Ireland

      excellent hub - red eggs - I don't know about that - hope you are well and keep on hubbing..

    • scottaye73 profile image

      scottaye73 

      9 years ago from Michigan, USA

      Very interesting hub! I like it! Hope you have a great day. ~ Scott

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 

      9 years ago

      very nice hub

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      Well done.....nice hub! Thanks!....:)

    • Carolina Crete profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolina Crete 

      9 years ago from Crete, Greece

      Thanks Princessa. Kalo Paska to you too!

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      9 years ago from France

      This is new to me, very interesting. The Greek Easter food sounds really delicious. Thanks for the "travel" to a Greek Easter!

      Kalo Paska!

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