I’ve long been fascinated by how different cultures celebrate worldwide holidays. So I enjoyed learning from this guest post on Easter in Greece.
Greece is home to a number of religious festivals whose roots can be traced many centuries back. Easter is one of the most popular and ancient celebrations among the millions of Greek orthodox Christians. Each year, millions of visitors participate in this celebration and find it to be remarkable.
Arrival of Christianity in Greece
Greece received Christianity in the 1st century AD following the preaching of St. Paul, one of the renowned Apostles in the church history. Christianity was later to be legalized as the state religion by the Roman Emperor Constantine for Great in the 4th century. He later was to move the empire’s capital to Byzantium (modern day Istanbul) from Rome. Since the arrival of Christianity in Greece, Pascha or Easter has been celebrated as the most flamboyant holiday in the country but is marked on a different day from other Easter celebrations around the world. The Greek Orthodox Pascha is determined by the Julian calendar.
Important days culminating in Easter Sunday
Greek Pascha/Easter celebrations go beyond the Easter Sunday celebrations. There are numerous days considered important but all culminate to Easter Sunday. These days include Clean Monday (Kathari Deftera), Lent (begins 40 days prior to the Palm Sunday), Palm Sunday, Holy Week (Megali Evdomadha), Good Friday, Holy Sunday and Easter Sunday. Many of these days are marked by popular open to all celebrations that one should witness. The decoration of Epitaphios and its being carried around, commemorating the burial procession of Christ. Downtown Athens has one of the grandest Lementation services. Also on Palm Saturday the resurrection services at Lycabettus hill and at all the churches next to the Parthenon are really memorable. KeyTours can show you around all those important Byzantine temples that are scattered around Athens, indicating its long history as one of Western Civilization’s most important cities.
The Easter Sunday is normally marked by feasting and color. During Lambri or Pascha, as the day is known, a lamb is cooked on a spit in addition to kokoretsi among many other Greek traditional dishes. Pascha is a day of great celebrations marking the end of lent and ushering in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On this day, large gatherings are witnessed at homes and other places as people feast on sumptuous foods and wine, enjoying songs and dance until late in the evening. Easter Sunday is one of the best days and occasions to participate in while visiting Greece.
Greek Orthodox Easter exhibits colorful and rich Easter traditions and cultural practices which include fireworks, decoration of epitaphios, and feast of the lamb and building bonfires.