Orthodox Easter in Greece: A Celebration of Spirit, Traditions and Nature
Considered to be the most important holiday on the Greek calendar and one of the richest in folklore, the celebration of Orthodox Easter is extraordinary throughout Greece. While there are many local customs associated with Easter, there are several observed by all, which herald the rebirth of nature and spirit, and constitute a vibrant aspect of Greek folk culture that is rich in meaning and symbolism.
Easter, also known as Resurrection Sunday (Pascha), celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, and rose from the dead after three days on Easter Sunday. Preparations for the Orthodox Easter come to a climax toward the end of Holy Week between Palm and Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer and penance, and is followed by a 50-day period called Eastertide, which ends with Pentecost Sunday.
Feasting around Greece at Easter
Easter is also for Greece the most joyous celebration of spring, with numerous festivities, deeply rooted traditions anddelicious culinary offerings, celebrated throughout the Greek countryside and islands.
From Crete to Macedonia, Easter customs become a herald of the spirit’s and nature’s rebirth. Even in today’s modern society, centuries-old traditions are still being kept alive and respected by younger generations. It is the one time of the year when families are expected to be together and people travel all over the country to celebrate Easter with their loved ones. There are many places of exquisite beauty to visit at Easter time, promising a festive and traditional atmosphere to locals and visitors alike.
The Easter table is a reflection of tradition combined with the seasonality of Greek cuisine. Slowly roasted whole lambs on a spit, red easter eggs, braided sweet breads (tsoureki), Easter soup (mayiritsa) and grilled tripe-roll (kokoretsi) are among the most typical Easter dishes throughout the countryside. Local specialties like the traditional ‘mastelo’ roast on the island of Sifnos, lazarakia sweet bread buns of Astypalaia, and Zakynthian traditional kouloura cake are among the many other goods decorating the celebration tables around the country.