Greek Easter is something very special. Why? Because Easter is much more important in Greece than in other European countries. Larger still than Christmas. What it’s all about, where and how to party, and whether it’s a good idea to go to Easter travel to Greece – all this you will learn here!
Easter: the biggest celebration of the Greeks
For most Europeans, Christmas is the most important holiday of the year. Not so in Greece. Here Easter is celebrated by far the biggest. The reason?
Traditionally, before Easter, many women prepare the dough for the Easter pastry, which is baked ready in the local bakery.
Whole 97% of the people in Greece are Greek Orthodox Christians. Greece the only country in the world where the Orthodox Christianity the state religion is. In this faith, Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, is the most important event of the year. The Easter season is accompanied by numerous customs and traditions. The traditions are lived especially in the villages, but also on Crete you will encounter the classic Easter celebrations.
Good to know: Easter is not a fixed holiday, but a variable one. The Orthodox Church calculates this date differently from Catholic or Protestant ones.
The Greek Easter can be roughly in 3 important "stations be divided. These include fasting before the holidays, the days leading up to Easter and, of course, Easter itself.
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Like the catholic believers the Greek Orthodox fast as well forty days long until Easter. Traditionally, no meat is eaten during this period. This is replaced with seafood and lots of fresh vegetables. A very healthy alternative, we think!
The alternative to meat – here, seafood with broccoli – doesn’t always have to mean going without.
The days before Easter: Thursday, Friday& Saturday
On the days before Easter there is a very special atmosphere in Greece. People are already preparing for the feast, yet fasting is still observed. In this time the Greeks especially commemorate the death of Jesus.
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Maundy Thursday& Good Friday
These two days are marked by church ceremonies and processions through the villages. Especially the crucifixion and burial of Jesus is considered. On Maundy Thursday, the traditional egg dyeing also takes place. While in Germany people like to dye colorful eggs, in Greece they remember the color red.
The red colored eggs are often offered with the sweet, traditional Easter pastry – tsoureki.
Holy Saturday: Bells& Eggs
At 12 midnight, actually at the beginning of Easter Sunday, the bells strike solemnly. The climax is the moment when the priest calls out to the people " Christos Anesti ", to German "Jesus is risen" calls. The people return the call with " Alithos Anesti "> "He is truly risen ".
The specialEven if you come to Greece as a visitor, you will feel the great and emotional sense of community that exists at that moment. Everyone who takes part in the celebrations is part of the feast.
Now the Easter light is distributed as a sign of Jesus’ redemption. Afterwards the Greeks go home with the family and eat together the Greek Easter soup, which is called "Easter soup" MagirItsa. This soup is made of the innards of the lamb, which is intended for Easter Sunday.
Nothing is wasted! The innards of the lamb for the Easter roast are prepared to the delicious Magiritsa.
As an appetizer to the soup there are Red colored Easter eggs. Thereby we like to celebrate a small competition organized: Two participants each hit with their egg on the egg of the opponent. Which one has a cracked shell first? The intact egg wins.
Egg pecking, egg tithing, or simply: banging eggs on each other and seeing which one stays intact!
Easter Sunday: the great feast
Easter Sunday is always the first Sunday after the full moon Spring equinox. On this day the fasting is finally broken. There will be barbecue, celebration and feasting. Thereby on no Greek plate the famous Easter lamb, slaughtered for the occasion. People gather in the streets, dance and sing traditional songs. Depending on the region, the celebrations vary, but all are exuberant and inviting.
Also the Easter Monday is a holiday in Greece.
To celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, fireworks take place at midnight, here at Lake Voulismeni in Crete.
Travel to Greece for Easter
As mentioned above, visitors are welcome on Easter in Greece. Anyone who wants to experience the feast can do so and be fully included in the community. Therefore, we definitely recommend you to travel to Greece over the Orthodox Easter holidays. You can also plan your trip to take a detour to the villages or the center of Crete during the holidays to be part of the Greek Easter celebration.
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You get the desire to see more of Greece?
Then browse through our Greece Travel. Whether it’s Easter or any other time of the year, we think the country in the south of Europe is one of the most popular destinations, and rightly so!