Start planning now! This guide to Greek Easter 2023 features all the info you need – dates, traditions, and meal ideas included.
Get ready for an incredible celebration of Greek Easter in 2023! This comprehensive guide provides you with all the information you need to be prepared – from the date of Greek Easter to common traditions, plus meal ideas and tips.
When is Greek Easter 2023?
Greek Easter 2023 falls on Sunday, April 2nd, 2023. Greek Christians celebrate Easter (also known as Pascha) on the same day as Western churches celebrate – the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring. Greek Easter is celebrated with a series of festivals and ceremonies – all beginning on Holy Thursday (the week before), and culminating in a feast onResurrection Sunday.
During Holy Thursday, Greece’s churches are transformed into glorious works of art. The floors are covered with intricate flowers, crosses and graphics made from sawdust and various artistic materials. On Good Friday, churches across the country host solemn processionals to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Saturday evening marks anagnorisi (Announcement of Resurrection), where a priest symbolically searches for Jesus in “the tomb” among his congregation three times before discovering He is risen. On Resurrection Sunday, churchgoers exchange red eggs followed by dinner parties full of food and celebrating.
What are the Traditions of Greek Easter?
Greek Easter is the most important holiday of the year for Greeks, and includes a number of unique traditions. The most central ritual is to dye boiled eggs red – these represent Christ’s blood, so they are shared with family and friends on Easter Sunday after church. Additionally, Pascha pyramids (large cakes decorated with religious symbols), tsoureki bread, lamb-shaped cakes, and Red Eggs are commonly part of the festivities in Greece.
The evening before Easter is known as the ‘Holy Saturday’ and is marked with religious services and a parade of the paschal candle – a sermon symbolizing the resurrection of Christ. As part of this, children light candles and place them in baskets to bring back home. On Easter Sunday morning, after church, there is an exchange of gifts, followed by a family feast featuring traditional Greek dishes. Finally, at midnight on Easter Sunday, Greeks celebrate with a special ‘light service’ where they sing hymns and share their red-dyed eggs with each other inorder to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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What Types of Meals Are Typical on Greek Easter?
Greek Easter meals often involve roasted lamb, and the traditional soup avgolemono. Additionally, salad and vegetables are often served as part of a larger meal. Some Greeks enjoy making special dishes like stewed beef with red wine or baked fish in parchment paper. For dessert, there’s typically koulourakia (a cookie dipped in syrup), and kourabiedes (shortbread cookies topped with almonds). Other common desserts are baklava, diples, galatoboureko (custard pie with phyllo pastry), ravani cake, and loukoumades (doughnuts drenched in honey).
Greek Easter celebrations often take place in the home or village and involve various traditions, such as painting eggs, cracking eggs against eggshells, and baking traditional cakes. On Greek Easter Eve, families come together for a special meal that typically includes soup (usually avgolemono), roasted lamb with sides of potatoes, and other dishes like stewed beef with red wine or baked fish in parchment paper. After the meal is finished, there’s usually dessert, which ranges from koulourakia (a cookie dipped in syrup) to baklava, diples (deep fried dough cake), galatoboureko (custard pie with phyllo pastry), ravani cake and loukoumades (doughnuts drenched in honey).
How Does Lent Relate to Greek Easter?
Greek Easter always falls within the Christian season of Lent. During this time, many people fast prior to Easter Sunday, which includes abstaining from eating meat and dairy. Meat will typically be eaten on Palm Sunday and then again on Easter Sunday after the Resurrection and the Paschal Mass. Additionally, many people near cemeteries during Holy Saturday in order to light a candle in memory of those who have passed away.
Throughout the Holy Week before Greek Easter, many traditions and religious rituals are observed. On the Friday before Easter Weekend (Good Friday), special candlelit processions known as Epitaphios Threnos, will fill the streets of Greek towns and villages. During this ritual, an effigy of Christ’s tomb is carried to the church by members of a community or family. Then at midnight on Holy Saturday, there is a service in churches throughout Greece where blood from red-dyed eggs are sprinkled in symbols of rebirth and resurrection.
What Other Events and Celebrations Take Place During Greek Easter Week?
Greek Easter Week includes several different events and activities that are rooted in tradition. During this time, many participate in the Blessing of the Waters on Holy Thursday, the Parachneto on Good Friday, and the Easter Saturday midnight liturgy. Additionally, pre-dawn bonfire ceremonies are often held on Easter Sunday morning accompanied by traditional music and dance to celebrate Christ’s resurrection from death.
At these gatherings, many Greek Orthodox Christians paint Easter eggs with religious decorations to commemorate Christ’s sacrifice. They also bring traditional ‘tsoureki’ bread that is blessed by their local priest and hand out pieces to family and friends. After the midnight liturgy on Easter Saturday, most Greeks enjoy a festive churches-convened outdoor meal the next morning. During this time, they open bottles of red wine or tsipouro––fiery spirits made from grape must––and share in the joy of their celebration with family and friends.
During Holy Thursday, churches across the country host solemn processionals to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Greek Easter falls on Easter Sunday, which falls within the Christian season of Lent. On Greek Easter Eve, families come together for a special meal that typically includes soup (usually avgolemono) and roasted lamb with sides of potatoes.