Ok so it’s almost Easter time! This is one of the biggest celebration periods for Greeks all around the globe! Of course, Christmas is also celebrated but it's only a day, tops two for those who also follow the Christmas eve tradition, which most Greeks don't!
But Easter! oh boy! it lasts for almost six weeks! yep you read that correctly! six weeks, but what does the biggest celebration in Greece look like? Keep reading if you want to know everything about Easter in Greece
It all starts with the period called Τριώδιο (Triodio) which is also called Carnival a period of 3 weekends which each consists of carnival costume parties, food, drinks and an insane amount of confetti!
Then the first big feast day arrives Καθαρά Δευτέρα (Kathara Deftera), this is similar to ash Tuesday, Pancake Day! Just like for other Christians this is the first day of Lent (fasting) for the Orthodox Greeks. On this we gather for a big lunch that consists of Vegan and seafood dishes, after we eat, we take the children of the family to fly their kite!
So, let’s get into the food, The Greek lent is basically 100% Vegan for hardcore Orthodox Christians from this day until the Saturday night before Easter, except for 3 days in the whole period where fish can be eaten, and for the less hardcore they can eat Crustaceans as they do not have red blood!
However, for years many people have been following the Hardcore orthodox Greeks diet of 100% Vegan more as a reason to abstain from meat rather than for religious reasons.But this is a brilliant way to start a flexitarian diet or intermittent fasting, with a reason! I mean you don't have to be baptised Greek orthodox to do it! But as part of Finding your Inner Greek, let's start the journey by adjusting your diet to the Mediterranean lifestyle!
Find the Greek Easter lent recipes here
What I find is great about it is that you have something serious to look forward to, the Saturday night before Easter Day, The resurrection evening! A build up to reintroducing your body to protein, saliva starts running, time on the other hand seems to not be running fast enough, you know the carnivore inside you can't wait to be set loose, and it is soooo much more enjoyable, than eating it all the time.
The Holy week!
Most go to church on all days of the Holy week, it is a somewhat depressive week, no music is allowed across Greece (usually), well it's not a law but it is heavily frowned upon! Everyone has this mellow look on their face, as if by miracle they were Christians back in the day of Christ, re living their torment for the passions of Christ.
It all comes to a Climax on Good Friday, Jesus has died and is taken off the cross and placed in the most gorgeous death bed decorated with flowers, ALL churches across Greece are tuned and ring the church bells to the most depressing beat you have every heard again ALL day! Ding..... silence.....Dong...... with all Greeks at churches in their neighbourhood to witness this event! then they go to work for 5 hours and return to the Church to follow the deathbed of Christ around the neighbourhood with candles to show they are mourning! It's surreal to be honest, there is this weird silence with church bells in the background, it kind of sets the scene!
Then Saturday is a bit more cheerful as everyone hassles about to make their last shopping for food and gifts for Easter day. In the meantime in Jerusalem early in the morning 5 planes leave carrying the holy flame from the tomb of Christ all over Greece, then the flame is slowly distributed across Greece to as many churches as possible, the Greeks make their way to church around 11:30pm, and at exactly 12am when the priest starts chanting Christ has risen all hell breaks loose! church bells ringing like crazy, fireworks, fire bombs, people kissing and hugging! quite the site to be honest.
At 12:10 the priests begs people to stay for the procession that ends at 3am but most people have already vanished! Off to home to break the fasting with the classical dishes for the evening that moms usually have been cooking for weeks! And of course the most awaited family competition, the cracking of the red eggs!
A tradition that symbolises the red blood of Christ, which ran in sucrifice to cleans humanity's sins! the cracking symbolises that it was not in vain as Christ has now Arisen! The last one standing without a cracked egg is the winner!
Sunday Easter day, everyone gets up early in the morning to put the lamb and Kokoretsi on the spit! they have breakfast and coffee around the lamb and about 10am when the outside layers of the lamb are ready they start drinking wine! by lunch time we all eat and drink more rendering us almost motionless by 3pm, most take turns in taking small naps, but the table is always full with food or desserts and people coming and going, neighbours, relatives and friends!
Then Easter Monday is kind of like what boxing day is for English speaking cultures, we eat leftovers and spend the day with friends and family again!
So, there you have it! Everything you need to know about Greek Easter and below are some traditional recipes of a Greek Easter! Click on the image below.