The preparations for Greek Easter start weeks in advance. We clean our homes thoroughly as a symbol of purification and renewal, and we bake special Easter treats like tsoureki, a sweet braided bread, and koulourakia, butter cookies shaped into twists or rings. And of course, we can't forget about the eggs! In Greece, we dye our eggs a deep red color, which symbolizes the blood of Christ and new life.
Holy Week, also known as 'Megali Evdomada,' is a time of deep religious significance for Greeks. We attend church services every day, especially during the evenings, with candles lit to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus. The atmosphere is incredibly solemn and reverent, and it's a time for reflection and prayer."
The highlight of Greek Easter is the midnight liturgy on Holy Saturday, also known as the 'Anastasi' or Resurrection service. It's a beautiful and moving experience, as the church is filled with the faithful holding candles, and at the stroke of midnight, the priest proclaims 'Christos Anesti' (Christ has risen), and the congregation responds with 'Alithos Anesti' (Truly He has risen). It's a moment of immense joy and celebration, as we believe that Jesus has conquered death and brought hope and new life to the world."
After the Resurrection service, it's time to celebrate with family and friends! We head home to break our fast with a special Easter meal, which usually includes Magiritsa, a traditional Greek dish that holds a special place on the Easter table. (It is a hearty soup made with lamb offal, usually lamb liver and intestines, cooked in a flavorful broth with aromatic herbs like dill and scallion) and other delicious Greek dishes. And, of course, we crack the red-dyed eggs against each other, a friendly competition to see whose egg will remain uncracked, symbolizing the resurrection of Jesus. It's so much fun and brings everyone together! We also dance traditional Greek dances like the 'syrtaki' and the 'kalamatiano,' which are a big part of our Easter celebrations."
One of my favorite parts of Greek Easter is the warm and heartfelt Easter greetings we exchange with our loved ones. We say 'Kalo Pascha' or 'Hristos Anesti' to wish each other a happy Easter, and we also exchange hugs and kisses as a sign of love and unity. It's a time to connect with family and friends and share the joy of the holiday together."