Easter in Rhodes
(Sunday May st)
Easter in Greece is the biggest holiday of the year and is even more important than Christmas, with week-long celebrations and traditions. The Greek Orthodox Church plays a large role in the Greek Easter Pascha celebrations.
Palm Sunday – Â Kiriaki ton Vaion On this day we celebrate the solemn entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. Then cometh Jesus from Bethany to Jerusalem, he sent two of his disciples and brought a donkey. And sat on it to get into the city.
Holy Monday – Megali Deftera The first day of Holy Week
Holy Tuesday – Megali Triti A day of mourning. The women bake Easter biscuits “koulourakia’ with oil and eggs, to be eaten on Sunday.
Holy Wednesday – Megali Tetarti
A special church service for worshippers to be blessed with oil. All household chores must be finished today.
Holy Thursday – Megali Pempti Communion services in church start early morning today and churchgoers bow before Christ on the Cross. The women dye eggs red to symbolise the blood of Christ, and bake Easter breadÂ ‘Tsoureki’. These will be placed on the Easter table to be eaten after Saturday.
Holy Friday – Megali Paraskevi The most sacred day of Holy Week and is a day of mourning. The church bells ring the death knell all morning. Girls decorate with flowers the Epitafio – the funeral bier and a service is held for Christ’s funeral.Â At dusk the Epitafio is paraded through theÂ town streets with a quiet procession in tow. This is a sombre parade and everybody singing godspells.
Holy Saturday – Megalo Savato The church once again holds a service in the morning, and the church is filled with flowers.
The Midnight Easter Service & The Resurrection – Saturday Night The Anastasi, the Resurrection, takes place at midnight and is the culmination of Holy Week. The whole of Greece, it seems, attends church for the midnight service and the lighting of the Holy Flame. The Priest passes the Holy Flame throughout the congregation and all light a candle with cries of Christos Anesti!- Christ is Risen. Fireworks are then let off in celebration. The people take their lit candles home and make the sign of a cross with the black from the candle flame in the doorway of their homes before entering. The breaking of the Fast takes place now, at midnight after the church service people go home to eat Mageiritsa – a meat soup made with offal, plus the red eggs and kalitsounia.
Easter Sunday – Kyriaki tou Paska Families and friends meet up for the Easter Day roasting of lamb outside on a spit and a big celebration party with food, wine, music and dancing all day long. Kalo Paska! Happy Easter.