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Hello my fellow travellers
Have you already planned or booked your easter break?
Greece is a beautiful country all year long and easter is the biggest celebration for the Orthodox church. More especially, easter in Corfu is even greater, more spectacular and more impressive, with rituals that are found nowhere else in the world.
Easter preparations begin from Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday practically opens the Hole Week. It commemorates the Jesu’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem where, according to the gospel truth, the residents of the city welcomed Him holding branches of palm trees, laying their clothes on the ground and applauding him by saying Hosanna; blessed the one who came in the name of the Lord.
In the churches of Greece, priests offer palm leaves to the pilgrims.
The procession with the relics of the patron saint of Corfu, Agios Spiridon, gathers the pilgrims in a spectacular ceremony, with the participation of any Band of the island.
Red eggs are dyed in every Greek house and the Twelve Gospels are read. The red eggs symbolise the fertility and the powers of creation. Others claim that they stand as a symbol of the resurrection of the whole world, in other words, the regeneration of nature. Some people believe that easter eggs are dyed red to symbolise the commemoration of Jesus’ shed blood during his crucifixion. For others, the red colour stands for joy and happiness caused to humanity after the joyful event of resurrection but most importantly red eggs acts as a deterrent to evil powers.
The Epitaphs of the island visit every neighbourhood and cross under the mournful sounds of the Philharmonic Bands.
Epitaph and litany of St. Spiridon is established as a tribute to the miracle of St. Spiridon in 1553, where in a period of great famine ships with wheat approached the island at time procession of the Epitaph of St. Spiridon. The story goes that the sailors dreamed of a monk who led them to Corfu in order to protect them from the weather and to sell their products. Philharmonic bands are participating to the litany.
The locals revive the custom of artificial earthquake, symbolising the resurrection of Christ. Shortly after, the procession of the Epitaph of Saint Spiridon is held and then everyone expects the First Resurrection.
When the church’s bells start ringing vigorously on the island, it’s time for the first resurrection and people buy clay pots and drop them from their balconies, filled with water. In this way, they cast out evil spirits and participate in probably the most famous Easter customs in Greece.
This habit possible bears the influence of the Venetians who would throw old objects out of their window on New Years Day, so the New Year would bring them health, luck, happiness and prosperity. Another, most likely, explanation is that the custom is of pagan origins. By smashing things and making loud noises the Ancient Greeks wanted to wake up Persephone, the goddess of spring , and accelerate the coming of Spring .
At midnight, the Resurrection is celebrated, with the bells ringing loudly at midnight and making the miracle of Christianity known in every corner of the world, anywhere there is a Greek orthodox church and people get the Holy light on white candles. Later they return home and gather round the table to celebrate the resurrection by eating local delicacies such as red eggs and the so-called magiritsa.
The roasted lamb, slowly cooking on the spit on Easter Sunday, is not only a mouth-watering delicacy but it also carries rich symbolism.
The origin of eating lamb on Easter comes from the Jewish Passover and is associated with the exodus from Egypt.
Before the Jews set out on the great exodus, God, through Moses, told them to gather in small groups and each family to sacrifice a lamb. With the animal’s blood they were to paint their doorposts so they were not exterminated by the angel of God, who on that night would bring pestilence to the firstborn of each family who would not mark the entrance to their house with the lamb’s blood.
That night, each family offered as a sacrifice to God a lamb for the salvation of all people. They ate the lamb, without breaking its bones, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. With the lamb’s blood, they stained their doors.
Later, Christians adopted the sacrificial lamb as John the Baptist likened Jesus Christ to the lamb of God who will take the brunt of the sins of the world with his sacrifice.
In most parts of Greece, on Easter Sunday the faithful roast a lamb on the spit along with the intestines.
On Easter Sunday and 40 days on, Orthodox Christians greet each other saying, “Christ is Risen” and answer, “Truly He is risen.”
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I am waiting for your easter experiences on my Facebook page.
With lots of love,