In "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" you learned about Greek Orthodox wedding traditions. Well, Womensforum has the scoop on Greek Orthodox Easter history, foods and traditions.
I bet you didn't know that Greek Orthodox Easter falls on a different day than Western, Catholic Easter. Or, that our main dishes consists of lamb and soup with GIZZARDS in it! And, we even dye our Easter eggs red.
Easter in Greece can be compared to Christmas in America. Since I'm Greek, I've got the scoop. Find out more below about Pascha, or Greek Easter.
Why is Greek Easter a Different Date?
This year we are celebrating Greek Easter on Sunday, May 5, 2013. That's nearly a month later than the traditional Western Easter. To put it simply, the Greeks follow the Julian Calendar while Westerners follow the Gregorian Calendar. In addition, Greek easter ALWAYS falls after Jewish Passover. This is because Christ was crucified and resurrected after he celebrated Passover in Jerusalem.
Traditional Greek Easter Foods
This is our traditional Greek Easter soup. If you've ever had Avgolemono, or lemon soup, it tastes similar to that. Want to know the best/worst part about it? The meat in it is actually from the organs of the lamb, we call it the "gizzards." Sounds gross, right? Wrong. This soup is actually amazing. I understand it's one of those foods that you can only eat if you choose to step outside your comfort zone. But, I promise, if you do you won't regret it.
It's only essential to eat lamb on Easter. Last year, I celebrated Easter in Greece on the island of Santorini. The restaurant had four lambs roasting at a time over a fire. It was great! But, we don't just eat lamb simply because we like it. It is the "Lamb of God," which signifies Christ.
Red Easter Eggs
One of our biggest traditions is dying hard-boiled eggs red. The egg stands as the resurrection of Christ, and the red represents the blood Christ shed on the cross.
This is traditional sweet bread we make for Greek Easter. This is typically baked on the Thursday before Easter. It is sometimes decorated with the dyed red Easter eggs. Thursday marks the day for Easter preparation and is called Holy Thursday.
Easter in Greece
My most fond memory while studying abroad in Greece was Easter. Greeks are very passionate about this holiday and it was amazing to see how they celebrate. In Santorini, the small town was lit up by candles on Easter. Despite the night being so windy, the candles could still be seen lit up and glowing from a mile away, literally. As my mom, Aunt and I drove away in a cab, the town glowed like something from a movie. It was incredible.
In addition, special candles are made for Easter, known as "labathas." They are usually gifts given to children by their parents or God parents. This tradition is huge in Greece and there were many, beautifully-decorated candles everywhere. They are usually white and can be decorated using anything.
If you're around any Greeks at all on Easter, you might hear people saying "Christos Anesti," which means Christ is risen. It's followed up by saying "Alithos Anestic," which means truly He is risen.
Greek Easter is a very important date for our culture. If you ever have a chance to experience it you will love it!