In Greece, we observe many customs till Easter Day. Greece follows the Orthodox calendar, so Easter day does not always coincide with the Catholic Easter day. This year, for example, Greek Orthodox Easter day will be one week after the Catholic one. Let’s see some of the most notorious Greek Easter Traditions!
We have 40 days of fasting. Fasting means we abstain from eating or drinking dairy products, eggs and meat (red or white).
Most Greeks choose to fast religiously only during the Holy Week (or Big Week as we say in Greek = Μεγάλη Εβδομάδα) and do not eat meat or products from animals in general.
Before Easter, on the Maundy Thursday we color the Easter eggs (usually red) and we make Greek Easter cookies (Πασχαλινά κουλουράκια) and Greek brioches (Τσουρέκια).
On Good Friday
We eat little because we are fasting. Some Greeks on Good Friday avoid eating even food that contains olive oil.
We go to the church in the evening. We follow the liturgical service of Epitaphios (Επιτάφιος). If you ever have the chance to attend, do not miss it. It is a beautiful service decorated with flowers, especially since Epitaphios ( an icon that depicts the body of Christ before the burial) with its entire bier and its carved canopy attached decorated with flowers, will be carried around the neighborhood and people will follow it devoutly with lit candles in their hands.
It is a day of mourning, so you will not listen to loud music or feasts going on during Good Friday.
On Holy Saturday
In the morning we do not eat much, and we do not eat meat.
In the evening we go to the church. The liturgical service climaxes around midnight when the Priest announces, ‘Christ is risen’ (Χριστός Ανέστη!) and gives the light of Resurrection from his candles to those of the attendants: we take our lit candles and return home wishing each other –‘Χριστός Ανέστη!’ –‘Αληθώς Ανέστη!’ (-‘Christ is risen!’ – ‘He truly was!’).
Then we eat meat soup called patsa (Πατσά) after midnight (!!!) and go to bed.
On Easter Day (Sunday)
We feast with family and friends to celebrate the Resurrection.
A whole lamb roasted on a spit (Αρνί στη σούβλα) and kokoretsi (Κοκορέτσι) are a must!
We might also eat various savory pies, salads, potatoes and so on.
We usually have dessert and Greek brioche and we always hold the egg tapping! May the strongest egg win!
And of course, we drink ouzo, tsipouro, raki, wine, or beer! After all next day is a holiday!