Easter is the principal festival of Greece and the Orthodox Church.
The first ceremony takes place on Good Friday where the “Epitafios“, an imitation of the Christ’s funeral bier, is decorated with many flowers by the local women. The “Epitafios” is then paraded through the streets of the villages or the neighbourhoods of the cities.
In some areas of Greece such as Crete, the ceremony is also accompanied by the burning of effigies of Judas Iscariot.
A great celebration also takes places on the Saturday, for Christ’s triumphant return. At the stroke of midnight, all the lights of the churches are put out to symbolise the darkness which enveloped Christ as He passed through the underworld. Then a priest appears holding aloft a lighted taper and chanting “Avto to Fos… “(This is the Light…) and uses the Holy flame to light the candles of nearby worshippers. These worshippers then share their Light with their neighbours, until the entire church and the courtyard is illuminated by the candlelight.
After midnight, the families and friends meet to eat the “Mayeretsa“, a soup made from lamb tripe, rice, dill and lemon. The rest of the lamb will be roasted on Sunday morning for the lunch, with wines and dances.
This festival is of great importance across all of Greece but some place are notable for their Easter celebrations: Hydra, Corfu, Pyrgi on Chios, Olymbos on Karpathos and St John’s monastery on Patmos.