Easter for the Greeks is more important than Christmas for the rest fo us ! This year the Greek Orthodox Easter will be celebrated from 13th April until 15th April.
The reason why Easter is not celebrated at the same time as the Christian Easter is because the Greek Orthodox follow the Julian calendar.
Greek Easter officially starts with Clean Monday (Kathery Deftera) which is the first day of Lent. During the fasting period people will restrain from eating meat, fish with blood and all products coming from animals including milk and cheese. At this time, which is a bank holiday, friends and family will gather together and celebrate with songs and games.
On Holy or Great Thursday which this year would be the 12th April, celebration s for Easter start. The Tsoureki which is easter bread is cooked, cookies are made and eggs are
hard-boiled. Once they are hard-boiled, they are painted in red which symbolises the blood of Christ and a new life.
Holy Friday or Good Friday is the day of mourning and church bells will ring slowly and steadily throughout the entire day. As it is a day of rest and mourning, no work will be done and people will concentrate on prayers.
In the evening, families will dress up nicely and go to Church. From the Church a procession led by the priests will walk around the village or city. The procession represents the paths Jesus´s followers took, removing his body from the Cross and taking it to the grave. This procession is called Epitafios.
Early morning on Saturday the family will prepare the lamb which will be cooked most of the day on Easter sunday and prepare the rest of the food for the Sunday celebrations.
Just before midnight, everyone goes to Church with a unlite candle. Just before midnight, the lights everywhere in the village will be turned off. Past midnight the priest will call Christos Anesti, meaning Christ has risen. He will then take the flame and light the disciples candles. Once their candle lit, families will return to their homes,a nd before entering their house, give a blessing by doing the sign of the cross on the door. It is believed that by doing so, their house will be blessed for the entire year.
On Easter Sunday, the eldest or most senior will wake up very early to start off the lamb on the grill and let it took until lunch time. Until lunchtime, family and friends will gather at home and sit around the spit and greet each other with Kalo Pascha (Happy Easter).