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Orthodox Easter in Greece

Living the Orthodox Easter in Greece with its traditions is an exciting and mystical experience.

For an Italian, Greek Easter is something incredible because here it is truly felt and all people from the very young to the elderly participate in traditional rituals.

Easter week

Holy Thursday

During the week of Easter, the first important day is Holy Thursday, in which the Last Supper is celebrated with the twelve Apostles. On this day the following are prepared: Tsoureki, the loaf braided Easter cake with a red egg in the center which is eaten on Sundays; Easter cookies Koulourakia; the Kokkina Avga eggs dyed red to represent blood of Jesus.

Good Friday

Good Friday is the day of mourning and is the holiest day. The bells are rung slowly several times a day as if mourning the death of Christ and women bring flowers to the church to decorate the Epitaph. It is a wooden sedan chair covered with flowers with the sacred image inside, which symbolizes a symbolic coffin. The epitaph is carried through the streets of the neighborhood during a sort of evening via crucis (around 9 pm) and is followed by all the inhabitants of the neighborhood who accompany it holding a candle.

Holy Saturday

During the week of Easter, people eat little or fast, and Holy Saturday is the day on which they observe the fast in a particular way. Mayiritsa is prepared, a lettuce soup with lamb entrails and liver, which is eaten after midnight mass (we are told that it is not for all stomachs, we are not heard).

On this day after 9 in the evening you will find very few businesses open.

Before midnight the streets come alive with people walking towards the church. Everyone carries a lit candle, which on this day is white. Candles are a very important symbol of purity and light; every shop in the city sells them during Holy Week with the most varied decorations and traditionally it is the godfather or godmother who must give them to their protégé together with a new pair of shoes.

At midnight the priest celebrates the Resurrection and while fireworks light up the sky, people exchange festive hugs and happy Easter wishes. The game of Tsourgrisma also begins in which one's own red egg is broken against that of the opponent. You must tap the tip of the egg against the end of the other egg and continue reciprocally. The winner is the one who breaks both ends of the opponent's egg and is said to have good luck during the year. Who starts says Khristós anésti! (Christ is risen) and in response the other Alithós anésti! (Truly He is risen). These phrases are also used in the following days to greet each other and wish each other a happy Easter.

After this exchange, the actual celebration begins. Candles are brought inside the church, one can listen to the ancient sacred chants and take the blessing given by the priest as he walks the aisles moving the censer.

Easter Sunday

Sunday, as in Italy, is dedicated to family lunch where the dish of honor is thelamb (άρνι - arnì) grid.

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