A Memorable Easter in Chania
Easter is surely and by far the most important festival of the Greek year and is celebrated with many local customs and traditions. Easter is the most important holiday in Greece, and in the Greek Orthodox Church. From wonderful festivities in the village of Kalyves during Easter week, to traditional dancing and Easter delicacies. Spending Easter with us will be an Easter experience you will never forget!
Greek Easter Traditions
Take part in the processions and all night church events in the picturesque village of Kalyves through holy week and experience a true Cretan Easter!
Below is an outline of just a few of the Greek traditions that you can take part in on Easter week leading up to Easter Sunday in Kalyves and surrounding villages.
The traditional ‘Tsourekia’ – sweet breads, are made by housewives and mothers. The traditional Easter cake is circular or oval in shape. The next day is devoted to washing and cleaning the house, while in the evening the blessing of Holy Oil takes place in church of Kalyves and churches all around Greece.
On Holy Thursday eggs are dyed traditionally red in color and in the evening after a reading of the 12 Gospel passages has ended in church, the girls decorate the bier of Christ (epitaph) with garlands of flowers. On the morning of Good Friday it is ready to receive the image of the body of Christ when this is taken down from the cross.
Good Friday is considered a day of mourning. The drama of the death of Christ is followed with great devotion during the day and in church. Sweet things are not eaten – for the love of Christ, who was given vinegar to drink. Soup made of sesame-paste, lettuce with vinegar or lentils with vinegar are the food eaten on this day. No one should handle a hammer or nails – this is regarded as a great ‘sin’. In the evening of Good Friday, Vespers are followed by the procession of the bier of Christ. A band or choir playing or singing solemn music precedes the procession. They are followed by the cantors, the clergy, women bearing myrrh, altar boys carrying the liturgical fans, scouts and guides, and the faithful, who themselves sing the hymns throughout the procession. All along its route, flowers and perfumes are scattered on the ‘epitaphio’ by the faithful, holding lighted candles in their hands.
On Holy Saturday night, everyone is dressed in their finest and overflowing the church entrances listening to the Liturgy of the Resurrection. At the stroke of midnight the lights are switched off and the faithful carefully take home their candles with the holy light of the Resurrection. Before entering their houses they make a cross with the smoke of the candle above the door, light the lamp before the domestic icons, which they keep burning throughout the year, to be re-lit only at the next feast of the Resurrection. After the main church services on Easter Saturday Easter candles are lit and, occasionally fireworks from midnight on Saturday & the burning of the mock Judas.
Easter Sunday is another day of festivities, families and friends roast lambs on spits, others in the oven. It is a day of song and dance throughout the country with lots of food and drink! Throughout Greece, Easter and the whole of Holy Week are observed in a striking manner and in a religious spirit.
Apart from the great array of activities surrounding Easter week there are also a great deal of excursions one can take part in during the festive period to see the greater region of Chania. Enjoy your 2018 Easter break with us. It will be your most memorable!