On Sunday (May 2) it’s Greek Orthodox Easter (Tο Πάσχα), today it’s μεγάλη Τρίτη (big Tuesday/holy Tuesdayand now it’s Μεγάλη εβδομάδα (literally ‘big week’), the Holy Week leading up to easter. Read Stefania’s blog about this festive period and the celebrations that go along with it.
Tο Πάσχα (Greek Orthodox Easter) is probably the biggest celebration of the year for most Greeks and includes many special traditions and many family gatherings.
What is special about Greek easter?
Preparations for Easter actually begin την Καθαρά Δευτέρα (Ash Monday). On that day people say “KαλήΣαρακοστή” As there are 40 days left until the beginning of Holy Week (the week before Easter Sunday).
Nowadays, most Greeks start fasting just one week before Easter, the so-called Mεγάλη εβομάδα (Holy Week)! However, those who want to endure 40 days without eggs, milk, cheese, meat, etc., can find in any store fasting food. The vegetarian paradise!
Easter in Greece is very sacred. Even for non-religious people, the atmosphere is very special and is a big part of Greek culture. During Μεγάλη εβδομάδα, services are held every night in the churches, culminating in theπεριφορά του επιταφίου (circumference of the epitaph) την Μεγάλη Παρασκευή (Good Friday).
Το Μεγάλο Σάββατο (Holy Saturday), almost all Greeks go to the church for the Resurrection around 11.30 pm and watch the priest offer the άγιο φως (holy light), which comes from Jerusalem. Τhey will light theircandles (λαμπάδες) at midnight and try to quickly bring them to their houses and make a cross in the doorway which stays there the whole year.
On Saturday night they also eat the famous “μαγειρίτσα” and “τσουγκρίζουν αυγά”! Throughout Μεγάληεβδομάδα (Holy week) until Holy Saturday night they say the usual “Kαλό Πάσχα” or “ Kαλή Ανάσταση” (Happy Resurrection) to those they meet.
Easter in Greece means lamb, kokoretsi, wine, red eggs, but also an amazing, spring green nature, with blooming wildflowers everywhere.
And those of you who are vegetarians, do not worry! Greek taverns have many dishes without meat.