Greek easter

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Transcript of Greek easter

  1. 1. Greek Easter School Year 2014-2015
  2. 2. 2 Greek Easter, the most important religious holiday in Greece Easter is the most important holiday of the year for the people of Greece. Easter is always in spring and nature is most beautiful at that time. The weather is good, neither cold nor too hot and it is perfect time for hiking or traveling around. Perhaps it is not the best time of the year for spending a day at the beach but you will experience the wonderful Greek Easter customs and religious ceremonies. Easter = Pascha in Greek In the Orthodox Church the feast of Easter is officially called Pascha, the word which means the Passover. It is the eternal Passover from death to life and from earth to heaven. Easter (Pascha) begins on the Saturday of Lazarus (the Saturday before Palm Sunday) with children and their teachers being very happy because they will spend two weeks far from school. The Christian symbolism of Easter was first underlined by the Apostle Paul. When the Christians began to celebrate Easter, they retained some of the features of the Jewish Passover, while at the same time adding others. This can be seen from the paschal lamb and the red eggs.
  3. 3. 3 Greek Easter Customs & Food Easter is the most sacred observance in the Greek Orthodox faith. Preparations and customs remain some of the most traditional in Modern Greek life. Preparations for Easter come to a climax toward the end of Holy Week, between Palm Sunday and Easter. While there are many local customs associated with Easter, there are several observed by all.
  4. 4. 4 Holy (or Great) Thursday Easter preparations begin on Holy Thursday when the traditional Easter bread, tsoureki, is baked, and eggs are dyed red (red is the colour of life as well as a representation of the blood of Christ). From ancient times, the egg has been a symbol of the renewal of life, and the message of the red eggs is victory over death. In times gone by, superstitions grew into customs that included placing the first-dyed red egg at the home's iconostasis (place where icons are displayed) to ward off evil, and marking the heads and backs of small lambs with the red dye to protect them. Holy Thursday evening, church services include a symbolic representation of the crucifixion, and the period of mourning begins. In many villages - and in cities as well - women will sit in church throughout the night, in traditional mourning.
  5. 5. 5 Holy (or Great) Friday The holiest day of Holy Week is Holy Friday. It is a day of mourning, not of work (including cooking). It is also the only day during the year when the Divine Liturgy is not read. Flags are hung at half-mast and church bells ring all day in a slow mournful tone. Many devout do not cook on Holy Friday, but if they do, traditional foods are simple, perhaps boiled in water (no oil) and seasoned with vinegar - like beans - or thin soups like tahinosoupa, a soup made with tahini. Traditionally, women and children take flowers to the church to decorate the Epitaphio (the symbolic bier of Christ). The Service of Lamentation mourns the death of Christ and the bier, decorated lavishly with flowers and bearing the image of Christ, is carried on the shoulders of the faithful in a procession through the community to the cemetery, and back. Members of the congregation follow, carrying candles.
  6. 6. 6 It is difficult to speak about Easter in Greece without getting emotional. It is even more difficult to speak about the night of Good Friday and keep our emotions out of this text. There is something special about this night. The air is full of the scent of flowers, it is still but not heavy, there is a melancholic feeling all over but there is also something different. There is a feeling of stillness, emptiness, calmness and the hearts seem to open to accept the Love of Jesus' sacrifice. This is more likely to experience in a small village but it is obvious also in bigger towns in the more remote and quiet neighbourhoods. Good Friday seafood dinner In Greece-especially in Crete and Volos- it is a custom to have a late night dinner with seafood after the procession of the bier. In big towns reservation is absolutely necessary if you don't want to drive around desperately looking for an empty table. This special dinner includes all kind of seafood but not fish. The dishes which are served include calamares (squids), octopus, shrimps, egg-fish paste (taramosalata), vine leaves stuffed with rice, beans, beetroot and salads. This is the only day during the 40-days fasting period that precedes the Resurrection, that animal proteins are consumed. This great period of Lent before Easter is called by the Orthodox Church, Tessaracoste (Quadragesimal), which comes from the word forty (the 40 days
  7. 7. 7 of "fasting"). However, today less and less people fast during the Easter Lent. Holy (or Great) Saturday On Holy Saturday, the Eternal Flame is brought to Greece by military jet, and is distributed to waiting Priests who carry it to their local churches. The event is always televised and if there's a threat of bad weather or a delay, the entire country agonizes until the flame arrives safely. On the morning of Holy Saturday, preparations begin for the next days Easter feast. Dishes that can be prepared in advance are made, and the traditional mayiritsa soup is prepared, which will be eaten after the midnight service, to break the fast.
  8. 8. 8 The midnight Service of the Resurrection is an occasion attended by everyone who is able, including children, each holding a white candle. Special candles made for Easter are called labatha (lah-BAH- thah) and are often given as gifts to children from their parents or God-parents. These candles can be lavishly decorated with favourite childrens heroes or storybook characters, and may be as much as three feet tall, but the candle itself is usually white. These candles are only used for one Easter midnight service. The midnight service (the Anastasi or resurrection service) is the climax of the Orthodox year. People arrive at their church before midnight. Nearly all Greeks, religious and non-religious, attend this service. A few minutes before midnight all lights are switched off, the priest appears at the altar holding a lit candle, and he invites everyone to receive the light to glorify Christ, who has risen from the dead.
  9. 9. 9 The light is passes among the congregation until the entire church is aglow. Then the priest reads about the Resurrection from the Gospel and the Christos Anesti is sung. As they leave the church people greet each other saying Christos Anesti (Christ has risen) and reply Alithos Anesti (He has truly risen). This greeting is used for up to 40 days after Easter. People return home, keeping their candles alight. Traditionally, families use the Anastasicandle to make a cross of smoke over the front door and to light the kandili in front of the family icon. The Anastasi meal follows with the cracking of the dyed eggs and traditional Easter foods, including Easter bread (tsoureki) and mayeritsa or lamb soup. The official kickoff for the meat-fest that is Greek Easter comes right after the church service observing the resurrection of Christ on Saturday night. Just after midnight, Greeks come home from church and first indulge in a game of tsougrisma, or egg-tapping, with their red eggs.
  10. 10. 10 Each person holds an egg and taps the eggs of others in the family. Whoever manages to break the other eggs without breaking their own is the winner. (Not surprisingly, this game usually awakens a competitive streak among a lot of participants, and fights have been known to break out when illicit tactics are used.) Easter Sunday Easter Sunday (Pascha or Lambri) is the day of feasting. Lamb is typically cooked on a spit and a variety of other Greek dishes are eaten. Friends and family gather in homes, eating lamb on the spit and kokoretsi. Red eggs are cracked again. It is a big feast, sometimes followed by dancing.
  11. 11. 11 The Corfiot Easter The celebration of Easter in Corfu is a unique experience, completely different from anywhere else in Greece, and particularly impressive for first-time visitors to the island. It is a huge festival, in which various components come together harmoniously: the Orthodox Christian faith, pagan traditions, the powerful presence of Saint Spiridon, the Roman Catholic community, the Venetian influence, genuine Corfiot humor, the music of the philharmonic bands and of course, the spring atmosphere. Friday is the day of the Epitaphios, the funeral of Christ. All over the island, as all over Greece, every church brings out its own funeral bier and parades it around the parish. In Corfu however, the attendant philharmonic orchestras and choirs, the
  12. 12. 12 presence of thousands of Corfiots as well as foreign visitors, give another dimension to the gravity of the occasion. On Holy Saturday at 11am, the First Resurrection and the Pot Throwing custom take place, with local people throwing pots out of their windows, smashing them onto the streets below to exorcise death and the evil spirits. In the evening, before the Orthodox ceremony takes place, the Catholic service at the Duomo Cathedral takes place. With the participation of all Church officials, the Resurrection service finishes at 11pm to permit the clergy time to prepare them for the Orthodox service. In the town of Corfu, the service is held in the Upper Espianada Square, starting at the Church of Agia Paraskevi, with the participation of the Bishop, the philharmonic orchestras and thousands of people. The Resurrection is seen with a roll of drums and an impressive fireworks display. When this ends, the bands traverse the streets of the town at a great pace playing cheerful music, with people running behind them singing. The Resurrection is celebrated and the Lenten fast is brok