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Greek Easter is a particular time of year that brings many unique customs and traditions. Greek people celebrated Easter for centuries, and the festivities remained unchanged. Some of the most famous Greek Easter traditions include the things we are listing below!
Which are some unique Greek Easter Traditions?
1. Koulouma & Tsoureki
On Good Friday, Greek families gather to bake Koulouma, sweet bread decorated with a traditional Greek cross. It’s served to break the fast on Easter Sunday and is often presented as a gift.
Tsoureki is a typical sweet bread that has a fluffy, chewy texture. It is made of flour, butter, eggs, sugar, milk, and spices. Making tsoureki is a traditional Easter dish in Greece.
2. Dyeing the Red Eggs
Greek households dye their hard-boiled eggs in bright shades of red, as red is traditionally seen as the color of joy and victory. Greek families exchange these eggs during Easter Sunday as a symbol of peace and love.
On Holy Thursday, ladies traditionally dyed the eggs with a colorant made from onion peel. This gave the eggs a rich crimson hue representing the blood of Jesus Christ. To color eggs nowadays, we usually use a specific crimson dye.
Greeks have long celebrated Easter with the Lambada, a dance that honors Jesus’ resurrection from death. This is usually done on Easter Sunday or at any Greek gathering related to the holiday around the world.
Many individuals do not observe lent rigorously until Greek Easter. However, it is customary to give up simply meat or cheese, or maybe chocolate or alcohol – basically, anything that is not very beneficial for your health. Restaurants and fast food outlets will usually offer special menus at this time of year for anybody who observes Lent.
The big week, Holy Week or ‘Megali Evdomada’ in Greek, is Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Even though it is a regular work week, stores have extended hours, church services are held every evening, and many people clean and prepare their houses for the grand feast on Easter Sunday.
Lent, or Sarakosti in Greek, is the seven-week season before Easter. During this time, some Orthodox Christians observe a fast known as nistia to purify oneself in preparation for Easter.
Greek fasting is comparable to a vegan diet, with the inclusion of fish and the exclusion of olive oil and alcohol on occasion. Many restaurants prepare special meals known as nistisima during Lent.
5. Tsougrisma – Cracking the red eggs
The ‘tsougrisma’ game starts with participants bashing one other’s red eggs against each other. The person with the most robust egg is supposed to enjoy good fortune for the whole year! According to custom, you seal your mouth with an egg when Lent begins and open it with an egg when it ends.
6. Greek Easter is also marked by feasting, prayer, and family time.
Greek families typically enjoy a meal of lamb, pilafari (rice with herbs), Greek salad, Easter cookies, and Greek wine or ouzo. Throughout the day, there will be plenty of laughter and storytelling as Greek families share stories of their faith and celebrate the joyous occasion of Orthodox Easter.
Every church in Greece mourns Jesus’ death on Holy Friday evening and conducts an Epitafios procession. The Epitafios is a timber structure draped in expensive fabric and frequently embellished in gold and silver. It generally has flower petals on it and portrays Jesus’s corpse.
On Holy Saturday, there are several religious services throughout the day. People assemble outside the church late at night in anticipation of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection, which we call Anastasi in Greek.
The Resurrection is symbolized by the Holy Light, which enters Jerusalem. At midnight, the flame immediately spreads across the gathering as everyone lights their candle.
Easter remains one of the most beloved holidays and is a time to honor Greek customs and traditions. Whether local or not, to celebrate Greek Easter in the Greek Orthodox church tradition can be an enriching experience!