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Read about the origin, history and celebration of Easter (Greek Orthodox Easter) in Greece.
Fundoo Times: Festivals: Easter: Easter in Greece

Easter in Greece

Origin and History of Easter in Greece

Greece, officially referred as Hellenic Republic, is a country in southeastern Europe. The Greek Orthodox Church plays a major role in the Greek Easter ‘Paska’ or ‘Pascha’ celebrations. The Greek Orthodox Easter usually falls one week after the Western (Protestant, Catholic) Easter, though it coincides with the Western Easter once in every four years. Easter is the most important festival holiday in Greece and hence, is marked with immense dedication and magnificence. Easter occurs in spring which itself makes the celebrations beautiful, colorful, and incredible. According to the Orthodox Eastern Church, Easter Sunday is the same day when Jesus Christ, came again on earth after three days of His crucifixion. Churches are festooned beautifully and everyone indulges in preparing a grand and lavish feast. However, the big day is Easter Sunday when people break their fast of 40 days by eating animal products. Women of every household clean the exteriors of their houses, buy new shoes, clothes, and personalized candles that are gifted to kids. One of the most significant traditions of Greek celebration is dying Easter eggs in bright red color, symbolizing the color of life.

Local name: Greek Orthodox Easter

Ways to celeberate Greek Orthodox Easter in Greece

Easter celebrations in Greece are a massive affair, observed with great religious pomp and fanfare. The Greeks follow the Eastern Orthodox Church and thus, celebrations begin from the Holy Thursday and last for one whole week. This week is known as the Holy week or ‘Megali Evdomada’ (literally meaning the ‘Big Week’). On the midnight of Holy Saturday (Megalo Savato) before Easter Sunday, the entire Greek population attends the midnight service with unlit candles. At midnight the lights go out. The priest brings a lighted candle which is passed from one person to another to light all the candles. This lighting of candles proclaims “Christos anesti!”, meaning “Christ is risen”. Sounds of holy bells, joy and fireworks let off the celebrations of the night. People take their lit candles home and make cross with its black smoke on their doorways. Easter Sunday arrives next day which calls for grand feasting and merrymaking. The meal talks of assorted traditional delicacies, including Mageiritsa - a meat soup made with offal, ‘hiroméri’, ‘Tsouréki’, ‘Lambropsomo’, red eggs, and kalitsounia.