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Friday, April 8, 2011

Red eggs and church visits

In the Greek heritage and traditions Easter is the greatest time for foods, feasting and celebration to people in the Greek Orthodox faith. Holy Week is the most important time of the year for many people in Greece. 

Copyright 2011 Jan
Holy Thursday 

On Holy Thursday boiled eggs dyed red are prepared to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and life. They are seen in most of the Greek families as part of the Easter Sunday Resurrection Table. People are also either making or buying butter twist cookies and traditional sweet bread (tsoureki) for the weekend to come.

Good Friday 

On Good Friday, flags at government buildings are set at half mast to mark the mournful day of Christ. It is a day of mourning, not of work. The people go to the churches to see how the priests take down the icon of Christ off the cross, wrap it in linen and put it in a great casket covered with flowers symbolizing the tomb of Christ. It is carried on the shoulders of the faithful around the church area and back. Members of the congregation follow, carrying brown candles.

Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday, the Eternal Flame is brought to Greece by military jet. It is distributed to priests who carry it to their local churches. The event is televised but many people start to gather in the churches by 11.00 p.m. for the Easter services with white unlit candles. At midnight the church bells toll, the priests announce Christ to be risen and everyone light their candles of the Holy Flame taken from Christ's nativity cave in Jerusalem. At that time fireworks are set off and people say to each other Truly He is risen (Alithos Anesti).
Copyright 2011 Jan
The candles are placed to homes and burned through the night as a symbol of the light returned to the world. Red eggs are cracked between friends and relatives as a symbol of Christ breaking from the Tomb. The person whose egg lasts longest is guaranteed to have a good luck for the whole year. The people gather around traditional food. On the Resurrection Table one can found smoke salted pork, variety of cheeses, Easter breads and special soup (magritsa). That is accompanied with wine, retsina and ouzo. 
Copyright 2011 Jan

Easter Sunday and Monday

The very next day people are visiting each others and greeted with, what else but, a plate of food. On the Easter Sunday the table is set again but this time more with greens, seafood, grilled vegetables, rice, breads and cakes. Maybe the most waited dish being spiced lamb traditionally roasted over charcoal fire.

Easter Monday is the day of relaxation and, well, some heartburn. Everyone gets ready to return to their everyday lives. 

Copyright 2011 Jan

Greek Orthodox Easter 2011

This year a modified Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar collide. In 2011 Greek Orthodox Easter is celebrated on the same day as Easter in the Western church, Sunday 24th of April. 

Kaló pásha ...Happy Greek Easter!