7 GREEK EASTER TRADITIONS
Those of you who don’t know me may say ‘why Greek Easter Traditions?’ Well, that’s because I’m Greek.
I am from Cyprus and therefor I am Cypriot (Greek). Here we celebrate Easter based on our religion. Our Easter Traditions may not be the same as everyone else in the world but we may have some similarities.
I thought I would let you all know what our traditions are and what they symbolise. You may even get some ideas of your own to do. Make new traditions or even add to your existing traditions. For instance the games we play may give you ideas to play games of your own on Easter Day!
So enough of me chating on! Here are the 7 Easter Traditions – Greek Style!
1. Greek Orthodox Christians Dye their eggs RED
The Easter traditions mainly start from this very activity. On Holy Thursday (also known as Red Thursday) we hardboil our eggs and dye them red.
Now the colour red symbolises Christs blood when he was crusifed and also symbolises life and victory all at the same time.
The egg symbolises the empty rock tomb that Christ was kept in.
These red eggs are used in a traditional game/challenge at midnight mass, Easter Sunday and for however long the egg last.
2. Tradition of Baking Tsourekkia and Flaounes
Again on Holy Thursday we bake our sweet bread known as Tsourekki and also we make Flaounes which are cheese pies.
The Tsoureki is like a braided bread and the three braids symbolise the Holy Trinity.
As for the Flaounes, these are made with cheese. Some people even make them sweet with sugar and raisins. It is usually a family event where we all get together to make a whole batch or two!
3. Good Friday or Holy Friday
This is a very sad day. This is the day that they crucified Christ and so the church bell rings in a very sad and depressed rythum.
At around 8 pm we all gather at church and pay our respects to the shrine of Christ’s tomb which symbolises the death of Christ. This shrine is decorated with pretty flowers and at some point during mass the shrine of the tomb is carried outside and walked around the church and in some areas the walk it around the streets.
4. Church Service on Saturday morning
In the morning again we all gather at church to hear the great news that Christ has risen. The church bells ring joyfully and we are all in cheerful moods, but, it is still not known to everyone that Christ has risen. It only symbolises that the women who went to Christs tomb to anoint his body actually fount the tomb empty. This is the first part of the fact that they find Christ’s tomb empty.
5. Midnight Mass with candles on Saturday night
Church startes at 11pm and by midnight it is announces to everyone the Christ has risen from the dead.
We take candle that we make or purchase to church with us in order to recieve the holy light. At midnight, when they are announcing that Christ the saviour has risen, the priest comes out and gives the eternal flame to everyone. In turn we all light up our candles and the whole church it dark and light is coming from everyones candles. The flame is the symbol of Christ’s eternal flame. After the priests anncouncment about Christ we each say to one another ‘Christos Anesti’ which means ‘Christ has risen’ and the other person says back ‘Alithos Anest’ which means ‘Indeed he has risen’.
After mass, we take the candle very carefully back home in order to take the flame with us and bless our homes and ourselves with this eternal flame.
Once at home we take the candle and make a cross on the door beam of our entrance. The flame makes a black mark of course but that is what we want, to have that cross there to bless the house and the family too.
6. Midnight dinner traditions
So now that we are back home with the eternal light we sit down to eat dinner. You see we do not eat dinner until after midnight mass. This is the end of our fasting period and soo we celebrate the fact that Christ is no longer amongst the dead.
Our dinner consist of soup, either magiritsa or augolemoni) and the red eggs, tsourekki and flaounes.
Magiritsa id soup made with lamb offal and organs, rice, onions, dill and olive oil where as Augolemoni soup is made with rice, chicken, eggs and lemon.
Also before we eat the red eggs we have a tradition which is a sort of game/callenge. We each choose a red egg and the crack it with the other person’s egg. The egg that doesnt crack is the winner. This winner then cracks his/her egg with someone elses egg. This game continues until there is only one egg left not cracked. That person is said to be the winner!
7.Easter Sunday and Sunday roast
This is the last of the traditions for Easter. The whole family gathers at one house at around noon to celebrate once again the joyful news that Christ has risen from the dead.
We roast lamb on the spit and enjoy traditional food like dolmades, roast potatoes, egg fried mushrooms, yoghurt, liver, salads and drinks.
If you are celebrating Easter at one of the villages in Cyprus then the festivities continue on through to Monday. On Monday there are games and more food at the villages.
Some of the games played are
- Egg race
- Sack races
- Tug of war with a rope
So what do you think?
Can you relate to any with your traditions?
Tell me one of your favourite Easter Traditions below!