With the Greek Orthodox Easter falling next weekend it’s going to be a wonderful time to be in Greece and on the beautiful island of Lefkafa enjoying a luxury Greek villa holiday. There are some details of what will be happening over the weekend at the Lefkada Slow Guide site and with the weather forecast currently predicting sunny skies and temperatures of 21-24C the island will be splendid in all it’s natural beauty.
In the Orthodox church Easter is very much the most important spiritual time of the year so you’re set to enjoy a fantastic few days. Easter can trace its’ roots to the pagan rituals that accompanied the arrival of spring. And it is of course linked with the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach. In Greek, Easter is called Pascha, meaning passover.
One common religious symbol associated with Easter is the lamb and this is doubtless the root of the popularity of lamb as an Easter food. In Greece it is often cooked whole, on the spit, for Easter Sunday. The traditional Easter egg traces its’ roots to pre-Christian springtime fertility symbolism and in Greece the eggs are traditionally coloured red signifying the blood of Christ. You’ll often see them, as in our picture, baked into twisted sweet bread loaves.
If you’re fortunate enough for your luxury Greek villa holiday to include the long Easter weekend watch out for a Good Friday evening “procession of the bier”, a representation of Christ’s funeral. This sees a band or choir preceding the bier and playing or singing solemn music. The bier will be followed by the local clergy and congregation. Along the route people typically scatter flowers and perfumes on the bier whilst holding lit candles.
On Holy Saturday evening resurrection masses take place in churches across the island. The midnight ceremony to light the candles is traditionally seen as the most significant religious moment of the year. All the lights are extinguished in the church and the priest comes from behind the altar doors with a candle. He walks to someone in the front row and lights a candle. The candlelight is passed from candle to candle throughout the church with the light progressively filling the church.
People leave the church just before midnight, singing a song the words of which mean, Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. With many multi-generational families present in these traditional areas there’s a real sense of history. These same prayers have been said unchanged for centuries.
During your stay the following traditional Greek greetings might be helpful.
Καλό Πάσχα “kalo Pascha” (Happy Easter) is normally used in the run up to Good Friday followed by Καλή Ανάσταση! “kali anastasi” (meaning “happy resurrection”) until Saturday midnight. After midnight Χριστός Ανέστη! “Christos anesti” (meaning Christ is Risen!) is used to which the answer should be Aληθώς ανέστη! “alithos anesti” meaning “Truly He is Risen!”
If not this year, then perhaps one year in the future you’ll be fortunate enough to enjoy Orthodox Easter on Lefkada during your luxury Greek villa holiday at Villa Gabriella. If you do we wish you an interesting and joyous stay.