Villa Hurmuses Blog

An Insider's Guide to Mykonos

Discovering the Magic of Easter on Mykonos: A Unique Cultural Experience

Easter in Greece is a moving experience, especially for anyone who hasn’t previously witnessed
the centuries-old customs and traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church. So, if you’re visiting
Mykonos during this most celebrated religious holiday, expect a unique symbolic celebration.
To signal the start of Lent in Mykonian tradition, forty days before Easter, the sacred icon of the
Panagia Tourliani Monastery is carried in a holy procession down to the main town (Chora) of
The icon (the island’s patroness) is displayed in the church of Agia Eleni (Saint Helena) until its
return home on the ‘Saturday of Lazarus’ before Holy Week. The Orthodox Church
commemorates this major feast and the resurrection of Lazarus. At the same time, women on
Mykonos make ‘lazarakia’ – sweet and savory pastries in the shape of tiny people – to celebrate
the miracle.

Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday marks the start of Easter week and commemorates Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry
into Jerusalem. Priests, locals, and children congregate in the town center at the Agia Eleni
church. Children carry wreaths made from palm tree branches and the icon of Panagia
Tsourliani is paraded again through the streets, before commencing its journey back up the hill.
Daily church services are subsequently held to honor the final week of Christ’s life.
Holy Wednesday
At an important ceremony conducted on the evening of Holy Wednesday, church members
receive ‘Holy Unction’ administered with an anointing oil, in the belief that this will heal the soul
and the body. The Last Supper and Christ’s betrayal are commemorated in a service the
following morning.

Holy Thursday
On this day, most people of all ages attend church to light brown candles and offer silent
prayers in front of a symbolic replica of the crucifixion. This marks the beginning of a two-day
mourning period. Evening services are held at the church, and many elderly women will host
vigils at night.
Holy Thursday is also when the homemade sweet, braided Easter bread known as ‘tsourekia’,
signifying the Holy Trinity, is baked, along with Easter cookies ‘koulourakia pasxalina’. Dozens
of hard-boiled eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ and the renewal of life. You will
see them everywhere – in Easter baskets, bowls, or inserted into the tsourekia.
Holy Friday
On Holy Friday, Greek communities are filled with a deep sense of sadness as the death bell
tolls across the country. Flags are flown at half-mast and many homes are filled with a somber
atmosphere. The Epitaphios, a lavishly embroidered icon that shows the body of Christ lying in
the tomb, is set atop a carved wooden canopy adorned with flowers and occasionally candles.
This shrine is on display for people to worship throughout the day.

Later in the evening, a quiet candle-lit procession follows the Epitaphios as it is carried on the
shoulders of churchgoers and altar boys through the streets. Once back at the church, the
congregation shower it with rose petals.
Holy Saturday
On Holy Saturday, people attend the midnight mass (the Resurrection) to receive the Holy Light
from Jerusalem. This takes place on a hilltop close to Ano Mera in the small 18th-century
Monastery of Paleokastro and at the Metropolis of Alefkandra, located in the middle of a square
in the Chora. The lights go out just before midnight, and the priest lights a candle for himself
before passing his flame to other people one by one. Everyone spreads the flame through the
crowd until each candle is lit, church bells ring loudly and fireworks are let off as everyone
declares “Christos Anesti” – “Christ has risen”.
As is customary, people carry their candles home and use the Holy Light to make crosses
above the front doors with black smoke, which is believed to bless the house. Once this is over,
people can enjoy the traditional Easter soup, ‘magiritsa’ (lamb offal), which marks the end of the
forty-day fast.
Easter Sunday
By the crack of dawn, most grills are already fired up and the traditional lamb or goat along with
‘kokoretsi’ (seasoned offal) is already turning slowly on the spit – at home, in the streets, and
even on the beaches.
The intoxicating aroma of roast meat fills the air as tables are set for a magnificent feast. Onion
pie, kopanisti cheese, and the famous Mykonian sausage ‘louza’ are also served. The red hard-
boiled eggs used for Easter table decorations are eaten after ‘tsougrisma’, a game involving
cracking the eggs, symbolizing the breaking open of the tomb and Christ’s resurrection from the
Are you ready to eat, drink, sing, and dance all afternoon to celebrate Greek Easter? We’d love
to hear about your experience in the comments below.

Wishing you wholeheartedly a Happy Easter (Kalo Pascha)!