Καλό Πάσχα - Happy Easter
It is now getting very close to Easter, and in Greece many communities are beginning to prepare.
For 2018, Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday will fall on April 8th.
While for countries such as Australia, Easter is celebrated on April 1st for 2018.
On the Thursday evening before Easter it is traditional to make the delicious sweet Easter bread called Τσουρέκι (Tsoureki) (or buy it from the bakery because it’s very difficult to make). This is eaten on Easter as the three braids of the bread represent the Holy Trinity. Additionally, eggs are being boiled and dyed red.
A common greeting people share is : Καλό Πάσχα (Kaló Páscha) Happy Easter.
Though for the perhaps not so religious people you can hear it said Χρόνια πολλά : (Chrónia pollá). Which translates into "Many happy returns". This is a greeting that is used for many other events as well. Such as Birthdays, Name day, Christmas, New Years. Though not used on national holidays ( like 28th October ). For some communities it is considered more polite to wish this after the celebrated Resurrection Sunday.
After the Resurrection Sunday, you will commonly hear people greet others with : Χριστός ανέστη (Christós anésti) : Christ has risen.
On Good Friday, there is a somber atmosphere and the church bells ring and flags fly at half mast, and in some villages a shrine representing the tomb of Jesus is carried in the streets.
On late Saturday night, before midnight it is customary for people to go to the churches, followed by a festival of light, including letting off fireworks and crackers, as well as carrying home made Easter candles.
Then comes the real fun where the families gather and have a festive dinner which starts with cracking the red eggs with each other. One cracks their chosen egg on top of another’s chosen eggs, saying Χριστός ανέστη (Christos Anesti) (meaning “Christ has risen”). The other one responds, Αληθώς Ανέστη : (Alithos Anesti) (meaning “Indeed, he did!”). Each time there is a winner and loser. The loser being the one with the cracked egg. The egg cracking keeps on going, until there is only one winner- the chosen one with the un-cracked egg! The one with the strongest egg is said the have good luck for the whole year.
Then they eat μαγειρίτσα (Magiritsa) which is a soup containing lamb offal , and symbolizes the end of the 40 day fast, ending the period of the morning the death of Jesus.
Easter Sunday is another celebration held at noon with roast lamb, potatoes, salads and drinks.
nb - I am learning about Greek customs and language. If you can share traditional recopies, written in Greek and translated to English, and other customs, such as perhaps songs, and include as many relevant Greek words as possible, I would appreciate it. And of course elaborate / correct any of the information above. ༠
Πολύ ωραίο άρθρο! There are many Easter traditions here in Greece and each city or village have their own. I will write down a few. I don't know how to translate some Greek terms in english but i will do my best.
A lot of people here in Greece do not eat animal products (meat, eggs, milk etc.) for 40 days. This ends at Easter Saturday midnight when we eat μαγειρίτσα. Others like myself prefer to not eat animal products for only a week. Starting from Easter Monday and ending at Saturday midnight. That is mostly because i have no self restrain at all :P.
Before the Easter Saturday, godfathers (νονοί) and godmothers (νονές) gift their godchildren clothes, shoes, τσουρέκια (plural of τσουρέκι) and finally a λαμπάδα which is a big candle. Truth is that everyone buys λαμπάδες (plural of λαμπάδα) because it is used to transfer the holy light from the church to the person's home (this happens in Easter Saturday). The Λαμπάδες are usually decorated.
In Κέρκυρα (Corfu) on Easter Saturday at 12pm the citizens throw big decorated jags made of clay and filled with water from their balconies to celebrate the resurrection of christ.
The friday before the Easter Week little girls go from house to house carrying a basket filled with decorated eggs. They knock on the door and sing a traditional song. The song may vary from place to place but in my town children sing this:
On Good friday little boys do the same thing only that they carry a cross decorated with flowers instead of a basket and they sing this song:
There is also the full version if you are interested:
On resurrection Sunday Greeks usually listen to traditional Greek songs like these:
And dance traditonal Greek dances. I don't keep that tradition since i prefer Black Sabbath :P. My family does.
Here are some recipies (personal favorites):
https://www.thespruce.com/tzatziki-cucumber-yogurt-dip-1705394 (- i love to eat this with the lamb)
Here is the webpage: https://www.thespruce.com/greek-easter-foods-1706214
Anyways, that's all i could think of. Καλό Πάσχα!
It is a presentation of Jesus burial. It takes place on Great Friday evening. The shrine called Επιτάφιος, epitaph is made of wood and girls and women decorate it with flowers all around so as to be a beautiful shrine. On Good Friday evening the bells ring and the people go to the local church to listen hymns for the dead Jesus, really beautiful religious poetry coming from the Byzantine period, older than 1000- 1500 years ago. After finishing this ceremony the shrine with the priest, the choir and people follow in a litany, representing the Jesus burial ceremony. In many cities in Greece all epitaphs go to the central square with all litanies. Parishes contests whose the epitaph is the most beautifully decorated.
This day is a day of strict diet, eating just a little and no oil or meat. The most religious keep diet for 40 days starting after carnival, 40 days before. The diet lasts to the Easter Day, when everybody eats and drinks a lot, a not so healthy habit though, as it is not good to break a diet so violently! The less religious keep the diet from Good Monday to Good Saturday and some non religious don't keep it at all. But everybody likes to take part in these ceremonies as the Orthodox Church accepts everybody, keeping or not keeping the diet.
The Good Friday is a day of sadness followed by the day of Joy for Jesus ressurection two days after. The bells ring sadly that day as Jesus is considered being in his tomb. The ceremonies of the Orthodox Church have kept many theatrical elements from the Ancient Drama and medieval mysteries, to make people feel the religious ceremonies better. It happens the same in many Christian countries, specially the Catholic ones.
On Great Saturday midnight, the bells of the churches ring and all go to church, even the non religious ones. There's is an old custom: all lights are switched off in church at 12.00 and the priest comes out to the people, holding a candle lit up. Everybody rush to take light from this candle. It is believed that this light is sacred one. In Athens churches it's is transferred by a special plane from Jerusalem, the Jesus tomb, where the Orthodox Patriarch lights it from inside the tomb without any light source, so it is considered a miracle. Many people believe so. After all people have lit their candles, everybody goes out from the church to open air and the priests start reading the part of the Bible that speaks about Jesus resurrection and after that an hymn called "Χριστός Ανέστη" that is repeatedly many times by him and the people together. At this moment the bells start ringing very noisy! And the youngsters throw fireworks, making a tremendous noise. In some places in Greece they make a puppet full of fireworks that is Judas hung and put it on fire. The spectacle is impressive, even it is dangerous, many had got accidents because of these noisy and hand made fireworks.
After that most of the people leave to eat the traditional magiritsa soup and red eggs. Everybody feels happy and hug each other, saying wishes as Linda described.
The traditional food is lamb impaled roast on charcoal. Dancing and drinking a lot is very usual in the Easter Day. Many people travel from Athens and major cities to their home villages to celebrate near their relatives there.
Easter is the most important celebration in Greece, as people are celebrating Jesus resurrection and the same time the spring, the life coming back. It is celebrated even by not so much religious. It is a family but a social celebration in the same time, as many people exchange visits to eat and drink and dance together. Everything is closed, schools, stores, public services, except for the touristic ones, for tourists coming and the necessary social services. Many people come from abroad Greeks or foreigners to celebrate with the locals.
Ι remember I used to read this book as a child: http://voulamastori-ekeini-ti-fora.blogspot.gr/ It's about a family's Easter holidays . It was really fun. Ah, the nostalgia...
Also, a pretty hardcore, and honestly, really impressive Easter custom from Chios, the infamous "ρουκετοπόλεμος": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SefoOTyK9s The question of whether it should be banned or not has been raised many times.
This is actually true for all Orthodox, we celebrate Easter this year on 8th of April due to Easter controversy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_controversy). And it's common in Russia to say "Христос вокрес!" as a greating like "Χριστός ανέστη" in Greek and as respond "Воистину воскрес" like Greek "Αληθώς Ανέστη", and we also coloring eggs but we have other culinar recepies: sweet bred "кулич" and "пасха" made from curd cheese. it's interesting to compare the traditions :-) Especially because we got Christianity from Greeks.
Agreed - re it's interesting to compare traditions !
I also was fascinated about the similarities in the alphabet between Greek and Russian. By the flukes that can happen sometimes in my life, I managed to have about 6 days in Russia last year, and I was surprised that I was able to a bit more competently read things like street signs and names of railway stations, etc, (instead of my eyes just glazing over and feeling lost) and I think it was due to what I had learned of the Greek language.
Христос вокрес , (Hristos vokres)
google translate comes up and suggests that is closer to Serbian.
Though the correct Serbian phrase is
Христос воскрес : Christ is risen. (Hristos voskres)
вокрес in Serbian , if my research is correct, means to worship, to give voice to
And that the Russian is :
Христос воскрес : Christ is risen. (Khristos voskres)
And just because I am dorky me and like to compare things I am also going to write here ...
Воистину воскрес : Truly risen (Voistinu voskres)
Αληθώς Ανέστη : Truly risen (Alithós Anésti)
note : the italic words in brackets is the googles suggested googlish pronunciation in latin script.
Also ESPECIALLY, thanks for the information on the Easter controversy, I was wondering about that !
Χριστός ανέστη and χρόνια πολλά everyone!
I should start by saying I can’t speak for every family and how they may choose to do things. But I think it’s safe to say that the majority of the Greek community here in in Australia largely ignores Aussie Easter.
Yes, we enjoy the public holidays, maybe wish everyone else a Happy Easter and take advantage of the Easter themed chocolate on clearance (when Greek Easter falls after Australian Easter) but other than that, it’s really not on our radar.
Even not-overly-religious types (like my family) will be gathering today to enjoy each other’s company over lots of amazing food. I can confirm this by how incredibly busy our local Greek grocery store was about 5 days ago. It was chaos! :)
I also saw in the Aldi catalogue recently they were advertising “get ready for Greek Easter!” and all goods they had shipped in especially for the event. I didn’t see anything similar from the other major supermarkets, but I can assure you they would notice a spike in sales of staples like eggs and lamb every year.
Like Stergi3 said, Easter is absolutely the biggest event is the Greek calendar, even here in Australia and even amongst non-religious Greeks.
It is quite common for the non-practising to attend church only for special events tied to family and friends (weddings, funerals etc.) and Easter. The line between Greek culture and religion are (and always have been) very, very blurred. They are almost one and the same.
There are many traditions that have followed through from pagan times, and this blurring of that line is one of them.
Oh and you haven’t lived until you’ve tried τσουρέκι, it is divine! (no pun intended!) :)