If you have been to Greece during Easter time or happen to have any Greek friends in your social circle, you may have realized that it is considered the biggest holiday of the year in this picturesque Mediterranean country. In the eyes of the Greek Orthodox Church, Easter is an important day to honor Jesus Christ who died on the cross to take away the sins of the world. And Greeks are ready to celebrate and blow off the steam, especially after weeks of rigorous fasting and prayer. In this post, we will give you a little sneak peek of what Easter in Santorini looks like, however, we recommend you book a last-minute ticket to the island if you want to fully experience the magic!
Locals dye red eggs as part of a fun game
Dying the Easter eggs is no doubt the brightest symbol of the Greek Easter. Making these vibrant and colorful decorations on Holy Thursday gets everyone in the spirit. Families with children gather together at rustic wooden tables with red paint (often made of onion skin) and brush to color the eggs, or at times each other accidentally in the making. Even though other colors and patterns also occur, bright red is the dominant hue they choose for this tradition as it well symbolizes the blood and sacrifice of Christ.
Once the paint has dried, comes the fun part of cracking the eggs. This custom represents both Christ’s resurrection from the dead and the beginning of a new life. The person who successfully cracks the egg of the other player without breaking his own gets to be the winner. Besides, he is also granted luck for the entire year.
Endless feast with mouthwatering dishes
In religious communities, the first meal of the day is served after the Midnight Mass of the Resurrection to break the 40-day Lenten during which Greeks mostly rely on vegetables and bounties of the sea. The Greek Easter meal can range from a small cozy family event to an elaborate feast that goes on all day and into the night. This joyous day well reflects the rich culinary repertoire of the country. The dinner tables can barely hold the weight of the various inviting dishes.
The main highlight of the dinner is the roasted lamb which is cooked for hours before the big gathering on Easter Sunday. Locals also make a deliciously wholesome soup out of it which is called mayiritsa and contains the leftovers of the sacrificed animal. Those who still have some space left in their bellies for dessert share a sweet traditional bread called tsoureki.
Villages lit up by thousands of Easter flames
The tiny quaint village of Pyrgos Kallistis (literal translation: the most beautiful tower) offers a spectacular Easter attraction that is a real feast for the eyes! The otherwise quiet and sleepy settlement dresses in thousand flickering lights during the Easter period. Pyrgos used to be the capital of Santorini for centuries and it has breathtaking views of the whole island.
On the night of Good Friday, after the deposition of the cross, people in the village begin the funeral procession of Jesus Christ. For this occasion, locals light up thousands of fire torches and aluminum cans stuffed with long-lasting flammable materials placing them all over the village: at the windows and doors of the houses, on rooftops, churches and even on the walls of the narrow labyrinth-like alleys. It creates a unique, thrilling atmosphere and you get a sensation as if you were back in medieval times. If you wish to participate in these breathtaking spiritual celebrations, do not hesitate but start planning your most magical Easter holiday, today!