It is Eater here in Greece. For the last couple of weeks the shops have been full of the traditional Easter bread (Tsoureki) and coloured eggs. The whole thing starts on big Thursday (Megali Pempti) when women will begin their Easter preparations by dying eggs. Traditionally, eggs were dyed red to symbolise Christ’s blood, but an assortment of colours are used now. On Thursday night church services are held and in the villages women will mourn all through the night by spending the night praying in church.
Good Friday (Megali Paraskevi) is a day of mourning. Bells toll mournfully all over the country and flags fly at half-mast. The icon of Christ is taken off the cross, wrapped in linen and put in the Epitafios which symbolises the tomb of Christ. Later that night, the Epitafios is carried through the city preceded by a band playing solemn music. They are followed by the cantors, the clergy, gilt crosses, alter boys, scouts, guides, nuns, military personal and finally by the congregation. The procession route is lined by people carrying candles and ends in Syndagma Square.
Saturday (Megali Sabato) is a day of preparation. Churches are decorated and cooking begins for the feasting on Sunday. Just before midnight people gather at the churches with unlit candles. At midnight the lights go out. The priest brings out an alighted candle and the flame is passed from one candle to another. "Christos anesti!" Christ is risen, the priest proclaims. Bells ring, fireworks go off. The next day is Easter Sunday and is filled with feasting and merry-making.
This year I am lucky enough to have been invited to spend Easter Sunday with a Greek family. My integration into Greek life has been a slow and arduous task and is in fact still a ‘work in progress’. However, I consider tomorrow to be a huge stepping stone that I am very much looking forward to.
Kalo Pasxa Everyone!!