Friday, March 16, 2007

Pre-Easter-Maria Kouri

As Easter is approaching, I would like to give you update on Greek customs and traditions. This year we entered the Great Lent period on February the 19th and this period lasts until Easter. On March the 25th, though, it is allowed to consume fish, as we celebrate the day when archagel Gabriel announced to Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Especially for Greeks, it a also a national celebration because March the 25th, 1821, is the official date that the Greeks started fighting for independence from the Turkish Empire.

The last Saturday of the Lent is Lazarus Sabbath (this year March the 31st). He was a close friend of Jesus and his resurrection had been a sign of the upcoming event of Jesus resurrection after a week. During this day, in certain villages, women bake small breads of the human shape called “Lazarakia”. The Easter celebrations last a week (‘big week’). In the evening of Good Friday throughout the country beautiful and touching Epitaph processions are held. The following day, the Resurrection celebrations start. Hundreds of people, carrying unlit candles, will gather around the church starting from Saturday evening in anticipation of the Easter service, which begins late at night. At midnight the priest announces that Christ has risen and appears with a candle lit by the Holy Light which he passes on. Candles are lit one from the other, wishes are said, and then the people make go home for the traditional feast of red Easter eggs and the famous “magiritsa” soup made of lamb innards. Easter Sunday is a holiday for visiting friends and relatives and eating and drinking together. Lambs are roasted on the fire (a ritual that involves hours of manually turning the spit), houses are open to every guest and the atmosphere is friendly.
If you do not have Greek friends to take you around, yet you do want to experience some of these customs and traditions, the best solution is to visit an island or a village in the mountains or anywhere in the country and spend Easter. The inhabitants there most probably will welcome you into their little communities and share with you the soothing rhythm of their daily lives.
Greek greeting "Christos Anesti!" Response "Alithos Anesti!"(English greeting "Christ is Risen!" Response "He is Truly Risen!")

Information Source: Maria Kouri <>

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