Greek Easter, Holy Saturday night festivities

greek easter-holy-light
Photo By paketomania
It is widely known that Orthodox Church does not celebrate Easter on the same day as Western Churches do. The reason for that is because Christian Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar. The rest of Christians follow the Gregorian calendar. Greek Easter is the most important holiday according to Greek tradition. The Holy Week started today in Greece. There are many festivities and church services during this week that lead to Jesus Christ’s Resurrection on Holy Saturday night.
easter greek candles
Photo By in2life

On Holy Saturday evening, about one hour before midnight, the Resurrection church service starts. People start to gather in church and everybody brings a candle – usually white in colour. Children bring more colourful candles, with small toys and various decorating parts tied on the them. By tradition, godparents bring the candles to children. At midnight, church lights are turned off and the priests announce the Christ’s Resurrection and light some people’s candles with the Holy Light. The light then is distributed to the rest of people from one candle to another.

easter fireworks greece
Photo By antenna.gr

Christ is Risen is sung many times by everybody and colourful fireworks go off to celebrate that special moment of Christianity. Family members kiss each other. One person says “Chris is Risen” and the other one responds “He truly is Risen”. After at most people leave and go home. Few people stay till the end of the mass, for about an hour longer.  At least one member of each family brings the candle lit on at home and they use its smoke to draw a cross at the upper side of the doorway. That symbolizes protection of the house and the family members for the year. 

 

 

suntages-mageiritsas
Photo By anagnostirio

 

At this moment Easter Lent comes to an end and people can eat again meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products that would not eat for 40 days. The Easter Lent tradition started to fade the last 30 years. Most Greeks fast just during the Holy Week. The first dish that is served at dinner after the church mass is mageritsa, a soup made of lamb offal, also know as Easter Soup. At the end of dinner the cracking of Easter eggs starts.

 

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