From pottery smashing at the crack of dawn
to an illuminated Santorini,
here's 10 destinations
that will make your Easter
Easter for Greek Orthodox people is a big deal. It is considered the grandest celebration of our religious calendar. There's a half and half notion to it, as it is characterized by both sorrow and happiness. Greeks celebrate in devoutness and compassion the martyrdom of Jesus Christ and the happiness brought by his resurrection. All these are sealed by the coming of spring, the season of rebirth, of joy and hope.
Typical Greek Easter traditions date way back in time and include red-dyed eggs and tsourekia baking on Holy Thursday, the funerary procession of the Epitaph on Good Friday, the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Holy Saturday that marks the finale of the 40 day fast and of course the lamb roasting on a spit during the festivities of Holy Sunday.
image courtesy of: akispetretzikis.com
That's Easter in Greece 101,
but each region has its own customs and traditions to celebrate and the are mind-blowing, brimming with authenticity and local lifestyle.
We've singled out the most notable ones, but please note that the full list is a quite long one!
Corfiots sure known how to throw an Easter in style celebration. That involves marching musical bands and pottery smashing. Locals throw clay pitchers a.k.a botides of all sizes off their balconies yelling "Christ has risen" creating a joyous yet ear-piercing clamor.
The pottery smashing pattern is also found in Zakynthos. On Good Friday Zakynthians follow the procession of Mater Dolorosa. Later, at the crack of dawn of Holy Saturday locals celebrate Gloria, the first resurrection, all gathered up the Saint Marco square. They buy traditional flower bouquets called bokedes and smash their pottery jars on the piazza trying to recreate the earthquake of the New Testament. Definitely worth staying up all night or getting out of bed before sunrise material!
Crete is characterized by diversity and Easter is no exception. There are many different customs taking place. In Chania there is a public market held on Good Friday in Voukolies, a custom dating back at the Ottoman rule.
This wondrous Cycladic island follows its own rules. On Good Friday, locals gather in Pyrgos village, that offers 360 views of the island, and light up thousands of lanterns creating an illuminated vision of Santorini that will captivate you. Don't forget to try melitinia!
Image courtesy of: www.vangelisphotography.com
There's a war happening in Vrontado village in Chios! An actual firework battle occurs between two parishes,from one church to the other aimed at the bell-tower. The rockets create a red-ish maze at the sky that leaves everybody awed. There are safety matters of course, but truth is this sight, is a sight to behold.
image courtesy of: thesecretgreece.gr
If a firework war sounds too overwhelming for your tastes and you are looking for a more low-key, relaxed vibe then Zagori will work like a charm. Spring upland is in full glory, flowers are blooming and you can follow the entire Easter ritual at one of the many churches and chapels in the area. It is also a real Easter foodie heaven, since locally raised, grass-fed animals are slow-roasted overnight making an excellent meat feast case.
This Saronic gulf beauty makes an excellent day trip case if you happen to spend Easter in Athens. There you will see the Epitaph literally entering the sea, at the village of Kaminia blessing both water and boats. Locals tend to burn Judas - a fake figure of course - as a symbol of punishment for his betrayal.
image courtesy of: www.hydra-portal.gr
Patmos is considered a holy and spiritual island for Greeks as it is the place where the Bible’s Book of Revelation was written. Visitors flock to the marvelous and historic monastery of St. John the Evangelist. Easter here is characterized by deep spirituality. Various events occur such as the Washing of the Feet ceremony in the central square of Chora, the reenactment of the Last Supper and the reading of the Gospel in seven languages and in Homeric hexameter.
In this cosmopolitan Aegean lady the two co-existing religious dogmas, the Orthodox and the Catholic join forces in celebrations. The Epitaph of the Catholic Evangelistria and the three Orthodox churches (the Assumption of Mary, the Transfiguration of the Savior and Saint Nicholas) meet at Miaouli Square, where they join in prayer.
It's a celebration to bring us all closer after all.
Happy Easter everyone!