Easter Greek Traditions and Customs
Easter is an important religious holiday for the Greeks. Customs and traditions are “resurrected” during it, reminding us of our roots and history.
In every corner of the country, the traditions of years or even centuries unfold, bringing us all closer.
Holy Week is full of religious ceremonies, such as church services, the preparation and procession of the Epitaph, and more. Our folk customs include the post-Resurrection dinner with stew as the main course, the crunching of red eggs, the kiss of love, and the roasting of the lamb on Easter Sunday.
But in several regions of Greece, the roasting of the lamb takes place on the second day of Easter, such as in Corfu and some cities of Epirus. In Corfu, on Holy Saturday, after the first Resurrection, the residents throw huge jugs full of water, the botedes, from their balconies! A sight that always excites the crowd.
In other islands of Greece, such as Patmos, on Maundy Thursday, they attend the Ceremony of the Niptiros in Xanthou Square, where the Abbot of the Monastery symbolically sprinkles the feet of the monks – a representation of the movement of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper.
On the other hand, in Chios, the “rocket war” (known as Roukeropolemos) that takes place in the village of Vrontado on Holy Saturday has been widely known since the years of the Turkish occupation. The settlement transformed into something strongly reminiscent of a battlefield.
In Kythnos, on Easter Sunday, a swing is set up in the island’s square on which boys and girls swing dressed in traditional costumes. He or she who shakes someone is committed to marriage!
In Skiathos, the procession of the epitaph lament in the churches of the city begins at 1 after midnight on Friday night – according to the timetables of Mount Athos -, while its procession begins at 04:00 in the morning.
On Easter Sunday on Folegandros island, the icon of the Virgin descends from the monastery and travels from house to house. At sunset, the Icon is delivered to Ano Meria and is carried on foot to the church of Agios Georgios, where it spends the night after the celebration of Vespers.
And from the Aegean islands, we will travel to the beautiful Peloponnese.
In Monemvasia, on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, the traditional burning of Judas takes place in the precincts of the Church of the Coming Christ. Inside the human figure, in addition to wood and straw, many explosives make the sight impressive.
Also, In Kalamata on Easter Sunday, a unique local custom, the wheat fight (known as Saitopolemos), is being revived, the roots of which can be found in the liberation struggles of 1821. According to legend, the Messenians used shuttles filled with explosives to intercept the Turkish cavalry, scaring their horses. Those who participate in the custom are often dressed up in traditional costumes.
The town of Leonidio in Arcadia has one of the most impressive and spectacular Easter customs in our country. On the night of the Resurrection, the faithful of the parishes build luminous “balloons” that they release to fly high into the sky. Those who, for whatever reason, fail to raise their “unseen” are “stigmatized” and the next day, after the Easter wishes, they receive the teasing of their competitors.
Our country has endless Easter customs and traditions. The Greeks, wherever they are, far from Greece, will celebrate Easter with faith, joy, and hope!