Greece - Orthodox Easter Holidays

Greece - Orthodox Easter Holidays

In Greece this year, Easter is a week later than in Germany or Switzerland. The dates vary, but this time it fits very well with our stay here.

Easter is one of the most important traditions in Greece and is also called Holy Easter (Ágio Pás-cha). During this time, the Passion of Jesus Christ is depicted and celebrated in a unique and solemn way.

Although the Easter customs and dishes may vary in the different regions of Greece, the basic tradition remains unchanged at its core. The traditional Easter bread (Greek = Tsuréki), the red eggs and of course the Greek Easter pastry (Kulurákia) are absolutely part of the Greek Easter celebration. And of course we tried everything and found it very tasty.

On Good Friday, the priest performs the symbolic removal of Jesus' body from the cross (apokathílosi). The body of Jesus is placed on a piece of wood and symbolically presented. (We had to do some research, of course, we are not that versed in church lore!) The body is then wrapped in a white cloth and placed behind the Holy Table (Agía Trápeza). At the same time, the Epitáfios, a gold-embroidered cloth with the body of Jesus, is placed on the wooden coffin. Many women walk around the coffin several times, scattering petals on it and sprinkling it with myrrh.

We ourselves wait outside the church on the evening of Good Friday. The priest and his attendants carry the coffin, decorated with flowers, out of the church at some point during the service and usually walk once around the place of worship with it and the faithful. In Koroni there is a procession through the village, up to the castle and back to the church.

This custom symbolises the number of days until the resurrection of Jesus Christ. After the tour, four men raise the epitáfio in front of the entrance to the church, under which the Christians pass, taking some flowers that represent goodness and health.

On this night, Easter fires (in Koroni rather candles and small lamps) blaze everywhere into the Greek night, as if the sky itself wanted to capture the warmth and light of the festival.

We walk with the people, greet acquaintances to the left and right of the path, and when the procession disperses behind the castle, we stroll leisurely home.

At midnight from Saturday to Sunday, the psalm proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus Christ is sung: "Christós anésti ek nekrón". While the priest and the faithful sing it three times, the bells ring, fireworks light up the sky and candles burn. The faithful wish each other "Chrónia pollá", which even our language app cannot translate for us.

We ourselves sit at home, because what follows is irrelevant to us. And yes, we are not religious enough to go to church. We prefer to look at how traditions are lived in other cultures. After the celebrations, most people return home to enjoy the first meat dish after Lent. The traditional soup Majirítsa consists of lamb innards, aromatic herbs and lemon sauce.

There is probably a lot going on in Koroni, we see the fireworks from a distance, hear church bells and firecrackers in turn. And: we snuggle in comfortably, stroke our kitten, which we don't let out tonight and so, for once, is allowed to sleep in bed with us.

The area looks like a huge picnic area here on Easter Sunday. Families flock out into the countryside to barbecue their lambs together (not our thing, well) and to eat their traditional Easter bread, decorated with red eggs. Exciting, there are actually only red eggs here, no coloured ones!

All in all, a time when Koroni comes to life. The harbour cafés are full, people laugh, chat and eat a lot. An all-round beautiful experience. And yet we are grateful to find endless peace just a 10-minute walk away.

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Merci for "travelling with us

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