Religious festivals with centuries-old traditions and customs take place throughout the year in Greece and Orthodox Easter is one of the greatest such celebrations. Greeks follow the Holy Week rites in commemoration of the Passion of Christ and celebrate His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Let’s find out about some of these age-old traditions.
During the Holy Week, the churches’ chandeliers and icon screens are dressed in black and purple ribbons, enhancing in this way the atmosphere of mourning for the coming crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ. On Maundy Thursday, Greek home ovens get very busy as traditional tsoureki (a type of fragrant Easter brioche) is baked, along with lamprokouloura (Easter cookies). Eggs are immersed in red dye – the red colour symbolising the joy for Nature’s rebirth and the spiritual regeneration that comes with the Resurrection of Jesus.
On Good Friday in churches Epitaphios (a wooden canopied bier representing the tomb of Christ) is covered with flowers of various colours. At the end of the evening service a procession takes place headed by Epitaphios, the priests and acolytes. People follow along the streets of cities, towns and villages listening to psalms being chanted.
On Holy Saturday morning, preparations start for the festive dinner that is served after the Resurrection Midnight Mass. Mageiritsa soup is a traditional dish prepared in most Greek houses (made with chopped offal and herbs). Before midnight, people gather in church holding white candles, which they light with the “Holy Light” offered by the priest. The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated at Midnight with drum beats and fireworks lighting the skies as the church bells peal out and the hymn ‘Christos Anesti’ (Christ is Risen) is chanted by everybody. Then people return home to gather round the festive table; they each hold a red egg and crack it with the person next to them exclaiming at the same time Christos Anesti. The winner is the one whose egg has remained intact!
On Easter Sunday morning, in many parts of the country lamb is skewered and cooked over charcoal. In other regions, the meat for the Easter table – lamb or kid – is roasted in the oven. The atmosphere is festive and people listen and dance to folk music! So, if you’re invited to join a Greek Easter table, don’t miss this experience for anything in the world. Easter celebrations are exciting all over Greece and Cyprus.
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Pireas (Piraeus) Greek: Πειραιάς Peiraiás [pireˈas]; Ancient Greek: Πειραιεύς Peiraieús [peːrai̯eús]) is a port city within the Athens urban area (“Greater Athens”), in the Attica region of Greece. It is located in the Athens Riviera, 8 kilometres (5 miles) southwest of Athens’ city centre, along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf. Piraeus has a long recorded history, dating back to ancient Greece. The city was founded in the early 5th century BC, when plans to make it the new port of Athens were implemented: A prototype harbour was constructed, which resulted in concentrating in one location all the import and transit trade of Athens, along with the navy’s base. During the Golden Age of Athens, the Long Walls were constructed to fortify the route from the main settlement to the port (Piraeus). During Athens’ Classical period, the naval base in Piraeus had 372 trireme shipsheds. Beginning in the 3rd century B.C., Pireaus went into a period of cumulative decline. However, it began growing once again in the 19th century, after Athens was made the capital of Greece. Today, Piraeus is a large city, bustling with activity, and an integral part of Athens. It is a huge marine and commercial-industrial centre, and home to Greece’s largest harbour.the busiest passenger harbour in Europe. (Porto Leone) Piraeus is marked by the diversity of culture among its neighbourhoods. The hill of Kastella is one of the most prosperous and attractive neighbourhoods, with a panoramic view over Athens basin and the Saronic Gulf. Its elegance comes from its numerous neo-classical mansions, while the Veakeio Theater and a church dedicated to the Prophet Elijah are the most popular buildings. The coastal area of Neo Faliro has been upgraded and is also prominent, with the Peace and Friendship Stadium and the Karaiskakis Stadium, an indoor arena and a football ground respectively lying opposite one another, predominating. Mikrolimano and Bay of Zea, are the smaller harbours of Piraeus acts as Marinas, attract large numbers of visitors with their picturesque vistas and vigorous nightlife. Kaminia, by contrast, is a working-class neighbourhood which still preserves the traditional look of an earlier period. The Municipal Theater in the center of Piraeus was built in 1885 and remains an impressive neo-classical building. Located across from the Neo-Byzantine Piraeus Cathedral, it forms one of the most renowned landmarks of the city and a popular meeting place.