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

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