Greek Easter usually falls in April and very occasionally in early May and does not always coincide with Western Easter. Easter in Crete, and Greece in general, is a very big deal – much more so than Christmas. Lent and the whole of Easter week is about fasting and feasting, celebrations and religious rituals, customs and traditions and special foods eaten. Due to the circumstances, this year all Easter celebrations will be cancelled and the services will be held behind closed doors. You will be able to watch the ceremonies online or from your TV.
Orthodox Easter is considered to be one of the most important holidays on the Greek calendar. Commemorating not only the crucifixion and resurrection, Easter is considered to mark the passing of winter to spring. As a religious nation, Greek Orthodox Easter is a week-long celebration that includes a series of festivities. The Holy Week, or Megali Evdomada, is brimming with symbolic events, festivities, and traditions followed by the whole nation, though the serious business begins around Holy (or Maundy) Thursday.
The dates for Greek Orthodox Easter in 2021 are:
Holy Thursday – April 29th
Good Friday – April 30th
Holy Saturday – May 1st
Easter Sunday or Easter Day – May 2nd
Easter Monday – May 3rd
On good Friday, a very special day, sees the conclusion of the Passing of Christ with Christ’s burial. On this day, bells ring multiple times throughout the day, and people head to church early to decorate the Epitaphios, a canopy holding the holy icon depicting the burial of Christ, with flowers. The Good Friday mass takes place in the evening and is followed by a solemn procession around the block of the church in big cities or around the village in rural areas. People usually join the procession, with a brown candle in hand, and chant or listen to the chanters singing the hymns in a somber atmosphere.
The Easter feast
On Easter Sunday morning, a big meal is prepared and all the households enjoy a feast of eating and drinking until well into the night.Throughout the nation, lambs are roasted on a spit or for smaller families, in the oven. The choice of the lamb is supposed to represent Christ, the Holy Lamb of God. Families spend the day together eating, drinking and celebrating this special occasion with a lot of singing and dancing.
Magiritsa also something you will find on the easter table wich is a lamb tripe soup served after the service. Some people may not like it, but this traditional dish is proof that Greeks traditionally do not waste anything, especially food, and eat the lamb’s tripe the day before roasting the rest of it.
The red eggs
The tradition of boiling and dying eggs red symbolizes the rebirth of life and the blood of Christ. The dying of the eggs is usually done on Holy Thursday.
Tsougrisma, or the cracking of the eggs, can take place on Saturday evening or Easter Sunday, depending on each family’s traditions. It is a fun game for children and adults alike, and symbolizes the resurrection of the Lord. The rules are simple. Everyone chooses an egg and cracks it on top of another person’s egg. The one that ends up with a cracked egg is the loser. The game keeps going