Tuesday, 21 April 2009
This week (17-20 of April 2009) is the so called Megali Evdomada, Great Week, which is Easter Week for all Greek Orthodox people. Anyone that has spent this week in Greece will have noticed that it is the most important holiday of the year. This year the Good Friday is on the 17th of April and the Easter Sunday on the 19th of April 2008.
Many Orthodox fast before Easter, and are not allowed to eat various foods such as meat, butter, milk as well as olive oil for the last few days. Then they will go to a priest for confession, and are so allowed to partake in the Holy Communion.
The actual Easter festival begins on Good Friday and people go to the churches to see how the priests and monk's take down the icon of Christ off the cross, wrap it in linen and put it in a great casket covered in flowers symbolizing the tomb of Christ. Then the bier is taken through the town or village, with people lamenting the death of Christ.
On Saturday everyone goes to church late in the evening, carrying with them unlit candles. At midnight the priest announces the resurrection of Christ ("Christos anesti") and lets the people light their candles of the Holy Flame taken from Christ's nativity cave in Jerusalem. As everybody does this fireworks and crackers go off and the dark night is filled with light from the candles. After this, everybody goes home for a meal - the fast is over. If their candles are still burning, a cross is made in the doorway with the soot, to protect the house for the coming year.
On Easter Sunday friends and family gather in homes, eating lamb on the spit and dyed eggs. Before the red eggs are eaten, however, you must crack them against your neighbours, and whoever wins by having a whole egg at the end, will get all the luck.
Many places in Greece celebrate Easter in their own way. A few examples:
• On Corfu the patron saint Spyridonis celebrated. His body, that has not decomposed, is carried around and is believed to perform miracles. On Easter Saturday ceramic pots are thrown out of people's windows to throw away Evil.
• On Paros children act as Jesus' disciples and perform the Last Supper, the walk of Golgota and and Crucifixion.
• On Patmos twelve monks act as the apostles, and the Father Superior clean their feet in the square on Easter Thursday.
• On Crete, as well as in any places around Greece, a doll is made of old clothes from each house hold and burned symbolizing the burning of Judas.
• In Thrace and Macedonia young women in traditional clothing called the Lazarins go around the villages singing traditional Easter songs.
As you can see, you must certainly visit Greece during the Easter holidays. You can easily book a hotel on www.medestino.com.