Easter is a holy festival celebrated by the entire Christian community across the globe to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from dead, after He was crucified on Good Friday. Easter is the most important religious holiday in Greek Orthodox calendar, a bigger to-do than Christmas. The festival accompanies the smells of spring, the rebirth of nature and the flower-carpeted ground. Various customs are associated with Easter celebration in Greece. The Easter eggs are beautifully decorated in red to signify the blood of Christ. These eggs are then used for making Easter breads, which are then gifted to friends and family.
Known for practicing religious fervor through Orthodox Christianity, Greece observes Easter as its main religious festival, according to the ancient Greek religious calendar. Easter Sunday is known as 'Megali Evdomada' (meaning the Big Week) in Greece. The festivity centers on the church and 'Megali Paraskevi', also known as Good Friday. In some cities of Greece, Easter begins with Apokreas, a carnival taken out by the Catholics. Some of the most conventional rituals practiced by Greeks, on Easter, include cleaning the exterior of the house, dying the eggs in red, buying news shoes and clothes, and so on. Personalized candles are also presented to the kids, as gifts, on this holiday.
In Greece, Easter celebrations start on Good Friday itself, with the icon of Christ being moved out off the cross. It is wrapped in linen and placed in a great casket to symbolize the tomb of Christ. It is, then, adorned with thousands of flowers and taken through the streets, followed by a slow procession. Another tradition followed by the Greeks involves lighting a candle at the cemetery, to honor the dead. On Holy Saturday, the Orthodox Patriarch breaks the seal of the door of Christ's tomb, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Jerusalem), and emerges with the Holy Fire. This flame, escorted by the high ranking priests and government employees, is carried to the Athens airport. It is, there, that the flame is met by the honor guard to the small church of Agia Anargyroi, in the Plaka. The flame is, then, distributed to churches all over Attika and the rest of Greece.
Easter celebrations, however, attain the pinnacle on the midnight of Holy Saturday, when the priests turns off all the lights of the church, symbolizing the darkness and silence of the tomb. After sometime, they light a candle from the Eternal Flame and sing 'Christos Anesti'. Herewith, they present the candle to the people present in the church, who in turn pass it to everyone present there. It is during this time only that the bells start ringing and fill the ambience with their mesmerizing sound. The whole country of Greece dwells in the high spirits of festivity that Easter brings along with it. While cooking tempting food and delicacies tops the list in Easter celebrations, flying kites and enjoying a vacation in the picturesque Acropolis hill in Athens are not too far behind.
Easter marks a major celebration time for the Greeks. Go through the article, to know more on the spirit of Easter in Greece.