If you’re planning to travel for Greek Orthodox Easter in Greece, it is a wonderful time to be here.
In Mykonos, just like the rest of the country, eggs are dyed red, the smell of sweet bread fills the air and touching religious ceremonies take place. These are customs that are steeped in centuries of tradition.
Greeks of all generations steadfastly follow Easter traditions. Across the islands and in the cities, a celebratory feeling slowly takes over leading up to Easter Sunday. If you travel for Greek Orthodox Easter, you’ll be taking part in the most important holiday for the Greek people.
The Holy Week leading up to the Easter begins pretty quietly. However, Easter Sunday celebrations end up becoming lively and loud.
Whether you are in beautiful Mykonos or in another part of our country, here’s a summary of the traditions you’ll witness in Greece when you travel for Greek Orthodox Easter:
Good Thursday – Baked Goods and Red Eggs
The Thursday before Easter, Greeks spend time baking cookies and bread and dyeing eggs. Look out for a special braided sweet bread called tsoureki which you can find in any Greek bakery. Also in bakeries, order some koulourakia which are special Easter biscuits. You’ll also notice eggs are dyed red in Greece, this is meant to symbolize the blood of Christ. Many homes and businesses will have a basket of these eggs on display. The eggs are cracked in a special way on Easter Sunday.
Good Friday – Epitaphios
No matter where you may travel for Greek Orthodox Easter, the cities, islands and villages throughout Greece will hold an Epitaphios. Be sure you join in and take pictures. During the Epitaphios, an icon of Christ is decorated with flowers (sometimes quite lavishly) and paraded around the town as a big group of townspeople follow it.
Before Midnight Holy Saturday
As the midnight hour approaches leading to Easter Sunday, churches overflow with people. Each person will be clutching a long stemmed candle. Children will proudly hold their own candles, usually a colorfully decorated gift from their godparents. Just before midnight, lights are turned off and the priest lights his own candle. He then offers his flame to others. The flame passes from one to another until all candles are lit. You’ll hear the words Christos Anesti which means Christ has risen. You’ll hear bells and even fireworks. The traditional Greek Easter dinner to follow, at local tavernas or at home, always features magiritsa which is lamb offal soup. Join in as Greeks take start cracking the red eggs for tsougrisma, a game which symbolizes the breaking open of the tomb and Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
Easter Sunday – Feasting and Fun
Travel for Greek Orthodox Easter means experiencing the traditional Easter Sunday feast. Greek families and communities gather outdoors to roast a whole lamb on a spit. Food is shared with joy as the smell of barbecue fills the air. Friends and families sit for a large meal together with egg cracking, playing traditional instruments, dancing, singing and more feasting.
We are gearing up for Easter in Mykonos. Would you like to travel for Greek Orthodox Easter in Greece? Have you ever experienced these customs and traditions?