Easter, National Anniversary, and The Carnival; 3 Greek Festivals/Holidays You Need to Know

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Easter: Being the most important Greek celebration of the year, it starts 7 weeks before Easter Sunday and comes to its time of greatest importance and highest celebration during the Holy Week. This is when Services are held every evening in the neighborhood churches. On Good Friday, a special celebration takes place when all the flowered tombs of the Christ (named Epitaphios) are gathered at the squares and make the tour of the towns. The highest time of celebration of the Easter holiday is on Good Saturday at midnight, when pilgrims go the church and get the Holy Light. At midnight exactly, the priest will show up holding a lighted torch and shares the Holy Flame on the candles of near worshippers. Then, the worshippers share at their turn the Holy Light with their close neighbours until the entire church and the courtyard. After that, fireworks can be seen going off in the streets around the Church. Worshippers often will bring the burning candles home and make with the black smoke of the candle the sign of a cross above their door. This custom is supposed to bring good fortune into the house.After midnight, families and friends eat “magiritsa”, a soup made from lamb tripe, rice, dill and lemon. The rest of the lamb is grilled on Sunday morning for lunch, accompanied by wines and dances. This festival is of very important in all the regions of Greece but some places, such as Corfu and Chios, are very famous for their Easter celebrations. In some towns, the Burning of Judas takes place on Easter Sunday in the evening.

National Anniversary: This day is full of dedicative military parades. It is also called “Ohi Day”, meaning Day of No, in honor of the negative answer of the Greeks when the Italians asked them to surrender during World War II, on October 28th, 1940. The Greeks fought for their country against the Italians and managed to win a number of battles, even though they were fewer in number and didn’t have technological military equipment like their opponents. However, the coordinate attack of the German-Italian forces in April 1941 succumbed the Greek army.

The Carnival: “Apokries”, also known as The Carnival, is expressed by three weeks of lots of food and dancing. The Carnival takes place three weeks before Lent Monday. Important Carnival Parades take place in Patra, Xanthi, Corfu and Rethymno with intensely eventful parties. The exact dates of the Carnival vary from date to date, depending on the official Easter date. Actually, the Carnival finishes 7 weeks before Easter.

 

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