The Saturday before Palm
Sunday, a week before Easter Sunday, is called the Saturday of Lazarus,
and children go, from door to door, singing Lazarus' hymn, for which
they are rewarded with money and eggs.
On the morning of Palm Sunday, people gather in churches and are
given a cross made of palm fronds, which they put on their icon-stands
at home and keep it for the whole of the coming year
On Holy Tuesday, housewives make sweet rolls or "koulourakia",
they do the housework, and in the evening they go to the church
and follow the blessing of the Holy Oil.
The Holy Thursday is the day for dyeing eggs. In Christianity, the
egg is a symbol of Resurrection, representing the emergence of Christ
from his tomb to everlasting life. In Greece, eggs are usually coloured
in red ("kokkina pashalina
avga"), like the blood of
Christ. Hard-boiled eggs are used, which are baked into twisted
sweetbread loaves, and distributed on Easter Sunday. People rap
their eggs against their friends' eggs and the owner of the last
egg that was not cracked is considered lucky. In the evening, at
the church the girls undertake the decoration of the bier of Christ,
with garlands of white and purple flowers.
Good Friday - day of mourning and drama for the death of Christ
- is followed with great devoutness. In order to express their love
for Christ, who was given vinegar to drink, the Greeks eat on this
day soup made with sesame-paste, lettuce or lentils with vinegar.
Meat is not allowed.
On the evening of Good Friday, a procession representing Christ's
funeral procession takes place at the church. Choirs sing solemn
music, followed by the clergy, women bearing myrrh, the altar boys
carrying the liturgical fans, scouts and guides, people of all ages.
They all sing hymns all along the procession. As the procession
proceeds, people scatter flowers on the bier, or "epitaphios",
holding lit candles in their hands.
On the Holy Saturday, the ceremony of candle lighting is the most
important moment. The priests exit the altar carrying a candle,
and people light their own passing its flame from candle to candle.
Then bells ring out joyfully at midnight and people kiss each other
saying "Hristos Anesti"
and "Hronia Polla".
According to the tradition, the Christians take home their lit candles
with the holy light of the Resurrection and, before entering their
houses, they make a cross with the smoke of the candle on top of
The meal of the most important day consists of "magiritsa".
Then, red eggs are knocked while greeting each other with the traditional
"Christ is risen" ("Hristos
Anesti") and the other answers
"Truly he is risen" ("Alithinos
One of the Christian symbols most often associated with Easter is
the Lamb. The following day, the tradition gathers the family together
and they roast a lamb, or "arni
pashalino tis souvlas", in