Easter in Greece, a moveable feast


Easter (Pascha) is the most significant holiday in Greece and marks the start of the spring and summer festival season. During Easter, many urban Greeks head for their ancestral villages to celebrate with the smell of spring in the air and wildflowers in full bloom carpeting the landscape.

Greek Orthodox Easter centers around the commemoration and celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Holy Week (Megali Evdomada) conludes on Good Friday with church services that include the procession of the Holy Sepulchral through villages, town squares or city neighborhoods. 040405_culture_religion_easter.jpgOn Saturday night, Resurrection services take place at midnight and the darkened churches come alive as parishioners light their candles to symbolize Christ's return. After church people greet and embrace each other while saying "Christos Anesti" (Christ has risen) and return to their homes to knock together red-dyed eggs and eat the traditional "mageritsa" soup and "tsoureki" bread. On Easter Sunday, spit-roasted lamb ("arni" and "kokoretsi"), becomes the centerpiece of day-long preparations for a traditional dinner feast. Read more about Greek Easter dishes on MSNBC and The New York Times.

Greek Orthodox Easter does not always coinside with Catholic and Protestant Easter. That's because the dates for Greek Easter are derived from the Julian (old) calendar Paschalion, even though Greece itself has followed the Gregorian (new) calendar since 1924. This also explain why Christmas is celebrated on December 25 in Greece and not on January 7, the date that most Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas (January 7 on the Gregorian calendar is actually December 25 on the Julian calendar). If you find this calendrical conundrum confusing, you can learn more about Julian and Gregorian calendars and Easter at Wikipedia.org.

Posted on April 5, 2004 in Culture, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Apollo, come and light my fire

040325_torch.jpgMore than 10,000 spectators, including athletes, officials and the media, gathered at Olympia today to witness the lighting of the Olympic flame. In a recreation of the ancient Olympic ceremony, Thalia Prokopiou, a Greek actress playing the high priestess, used a steel mirror and summoned the ancient god of light Apollo to do his bit and bring the flame to life at the Temple of Hera.

The lighting of the flame marks the start of the Olympic Torch Relay. The Olympic flame, in the hands of 3,600 torchbearers, will be taken to 34 cities around the world and will include, for the first time, stops in Africa and South America. You can follow the progress of the Olympic Torch Relay and learn more about the places it stops at along the way on the Athens 2004 website.

The day of the this ceremony was chosen to coinside with the date the first modern Olympics opened in Athens in 1896. It also falls on the same day as Greek Independence Day and the Feast of the Annunication. Which means that parades and parties will take place today, in Greece and around the world.

Posted on March 25, 2004 in Culture, Olympics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

kafeneo online store