Learn About Greek Orthodox Easter

Easter is the most sacred and celebrated of all of the Greek holidays. It is the most important holiday in the greek orthodox church. In this video clip learn about the traditions greeks observe during this holy week . Also learn some of the things that non-Greeks may not know about Greek Easter such as the deep red eggs and that there is no easter bunny.

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Greek Orthodox Easter

Visitors to Greece during Megali Evdomada, or Great Week, will realize this is the most important holiday of the year. Great Week refers to the week preceding Orthodox Easter.

The date of the Greek Orthodox Easter is set based on a different calendar than the Western world’s traditional Gregorian calendar. That’s why Orthodox Easter and Christian Easter rarely occur on the same day.

Many people practicing the orthodox faith, fast for 40 days before Easter. Of these 40 days, one week is a complete fast – where no meat, dairy, fish or poultry dishes are prepared or consumed.

Holy Thursday marks the beginning of Easter celebrations. With the women of the house preparing the traditional sweet buns called “tsourekia,” and coloring eggs red. The egg is a symbol for the renewal of life and red stands for the blood shed by Christ.

The festivities begin in earnest on Good Friday, when the church’s priest or monk removes the icon of Christ from the cross, and wraps it in linen. This is meant to signify ancient burial rituals. This shrouded Christ is then put in a casket surrounded by white lilies, and taken through the town for residents to lament his death.

At late night mass on Holy Saturday, people attending bring with them unlit candles. At midnight, as the priest announces “Christos anesti” or “Christ has risen,” worshippers light their candles from the church’s Holy Flame, which is said to have been taken from Jesus’ nativity cave in Jerusalem. The soot from the burning candle is used to make the sign of the cross is made in the doorway, to protect the house for the coming year.

This ceremony breaks the fast, and everyone goes home for a feast. Easter Sunday brings friends and family together to feast, traditionally eating lamb on a spit, and the dyed-red eggs. Before the eggs are eaten, however, friends and neighbors crack their eggs against one another’s. Whoever ends up with a whole egg at the end is considered the lucky one. These parties often last well into the night, with free-flowing Greek wine and ouzo making it a jolly affair.

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