When planning a trip abroad, learning about the country’s traditions is a respectful thing to do, especially if the place you’re visiting pays a lot of attention to its culture and heritage. This is certainly the case with Greece. So, what is the most important holiday in Greece? Let’s find out and learn the basics about this special time of year for the Greek people.
What Is the Most Important Holiday in Greece, and When Is It?
As you may have guessed, the most important of all holidays in Greece is Easter – but it’s an Orthodox Easter, so the traditions differ a bit from what you may expect from this holiday. Greek Easter, or Pascha (as it’s commonly called), doesn’t take place on the same day every year – it has to be celebrated on a Sunday between April 4th and May 8th, after the first full moon following the Jewish holiday Passover. According to the New Testament, Christ was crucified and resurrected after he came to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.
Easter Is an Integral Part of Greek Culture – It’s Not Just a Religious Thing
Greece is one of the countries that emphasizes its culture and customs. That’s why a lot of attention will be paid to Christian festivities. The vast majority of the Greek population is Orthodox, but regardless of how religious you are, the chances are that you will take part in celebrations of Pascha. You’ll have much to see if you find yourself on one of the Greek islands during this time of year. That’s why going on a vacation to, let’s say Mykonos will be a great way to fully experience Greek culture.
Celebrations Start Well Before the Actual Day – There Are Many Holidays Associated With Greek Easter
There’s much to be celebrated in the weeks before Pascha. Celebrations begin with Apokries – these are carnival festivities that take place all around Greece. Parades, costumes, and confetti can be seen everywhere. Apokries used to be a Pagan tradition, but nowadays, it’s one of the celebrations that are a part of the orthodox church. Apokries last for three weeks and precede the Great Lent.
Great Lent Is an Important Part of the Year for Greek People
When the three weeks of Apokries end, what follows is Clean Monday – or Ash Monday. This is the first day of Great Lent, during which Greeks don’t eat any animal-based food. On this day, it’s common to go out in nature and fly kites – if you find yourself in Mykonos during this time, you’ll have a fine selection of great beaches to choose from.
Lent lasts for 40 days, but not everybody will fast through the entire period – most people choose to fast only on important days, including Clean Monday and Holy Week, which is the week that ends with Pascha.
The Festivities Proceed With the Holy Week That Ends With Easter
If you’re traveling to Greece around Pascha, you should be aware that Holy Week is a special time for Christian believers, as it marks Christ’s suffering, and it has to be marked properly. However, the first three days of this week don’t have many celebrations or customs outside of the church. When we reach Holy Thursday, this is when Greeks start preparations for Pascha.
Dying the Eggs on a Holy Thursday Is One of the Most Important Orthodox Traditions
Holy Thursday represents the day of the Last Supper, which Jesus had with the twelve Apostles. The tradition reserved for this day is dying hard-boiled eggs, which are supposed to symbolize Christ’s tomb. The eggs are dyed in red to represent the blood of Christ, but nowadays, they are also dyed in various other colors.
If you want to participate in this beautiful tradition during your vacation in Mykonos, you can always find dyed eggs in a supermarket. Remember, these are supposed to be saved for Pascha – that’s when you can finally eat them.
Holy Friday Is the Saddest of All Holidays for Christians
Holy Friday, or Good Friday, represents the day when Jesus Christ died. Obviously, it’s the saddest day for religious people, and you can hear masses from every church in the morning and the evening. Greeks have a tradition of covering Epitaphios with flowers in the evening after the church service. That’s a wooden structure that will be later carried through the streets.
Holy Saturday Is the Final Day of the Great Lent
You can’t break your fast just yet. The evening of the Holy Saturday will be spent in church. In the moments before midnight, the lights will go off, only to be returned right at midnight, thanks to the candles that the Greeks will light. The people start chanting “Christos Anesti” – Christ is risen. Many are eager to finally break the fast, so it’s not uncommon to have a bit of some traditional Greek food after midnight.
Celebrating Easter Sunday
Finally, the happiest moment for Christians is here. This is a celebration of family – enjoying the moments together, eating great Greek food, drinking, and listening to music is what Pascha is all about. The famous game of cracking the eggs is a vital part of the day as well – two players choose their eggs, and one person taps the other’s egg with their own. The first one who makes the opponent’s egg crack is the winner.
Thinking of Celebrating Easter in Mykonos? Contact Us to Rent a Luxury Mykonos Villa for the Holidays
If you’re considering spending your vacation in Mykonos somewhere around Pascha, you’ll need to find comfortable accommodation that will make you feel at home. The Ace VIP can help in that quest – we offer the best Mykonos villas for rent!
To enjoy your days in Mykonos in style, contact us, and we’ll help you find the perfect listing. From private villas in Mykonos to yacht rental in Mykonos, we can help you with anything. With our concierge VIP services in Mykonos, you will have an unforgettable Greek experience.