Ahh, Greece during Easter...The weather is mild, the smell of flowers is sweet, the anticipation is glorious.
Greeks love Easter with its message of love, the new beginnings. Everything about this special holiday is tied to the culture and the traditions. Traditions we cannot really trace them back in time.
Here you’ll find the most important things you need to know about Easter in Greece.
The Holy Week or the Great Week
In Greek, it’s the “Great Week”: Μεγάλη Εβδομάδα, which starts on Μεγάλη Δευτέρα (you’ll see the abbreviation “Μ. Δευτέρα” as well) until Μ. Σάββατο and then of course Κυριακή του Πάσχα (Easter Sunday).
Some of the most beautiful hymns are chanted during this time. Επιτάφιος Θρήνος is the very moving hymn chanted on Μεγάλη Παρασκευή (Good Friday).
Easter candle & the Godparents
Greek godparents (νονός, νονά) visit their godchildren and bring them their Easter candles (lambades, λαμπάδες) which are lit on the midnight Holy Saturday service. They also bring presents or clothes and a chocolate Easter egg.
On Μεγάλη Πέμπτη (Holy Thursday), it’s the baking day.
Tsoureki (τσουρέκι) is a rich sweet bread known as the traditional Greek Easter sweet bread. It is similar to French brioche but with the unique aroma of mahlepi and mastiha.
This braided bread, usually with a red egg in the middle, decorates the tables and homes of those who celebrate Greek Easter all around the world.
There are also the special κουλουράκια (kulurakia), a bit like braided or round cookies, we make on this day.
Eggs are usually dyed on this day as well. The usual colour is red, but other colours or decorations have also been added throughout the years.
There’s no egg hunt or Easter Bunny, however a bunny or a little chick are used in decorations.So what do you do all these dyed eggs?
Well, you crack them on Easter day, like this in slow motion !
One person wishes Χριστός Ανέστη (Hristos Anesti) and the other Αληθώς Ανέστη (Alithos Anesti). It’s fun to see who gets the most durable egg.
The midnight mass on Μ. Σάββατο (Holy Saturday) is usually spectacular with fireworks and the Church bells ringing.
People then return to their homes and have a very late dinner of μαγειρίτσα (mayiritsa), a special soup with greens and lamb offal.
They also wish to each other while cracking the first red eggs.
Early in the morning on Sunday, the preparation of the lamb starts. You might have seen a whole lamb being roasted over a fire set on the ground or a big barbecue and this is usually the way to cook lamb for Easter.
The whole family and friends gather together to celebrate with music, lots of egg cracking, food and wine. The feast doesn't end until later that day!
ΚΑΛΟ ΠΑΣΧΑ! 🐣