The celebration of the Greek Easter is a major event in Santorini, full of the aromas and colors of spring, full of the flavors of the traditional plates and pastries prepared especially for this feast. The authentic and spiritual celebrations that take place in every village in Santorini are going on all through the Holy Week. Traditionally the people fast and go to church in the evening. In Oia, the picturesque church of Panagia Platsani is the center of Easter celebrations. The air fills with the smell of incense; the atmosphere is peaceful and tranquil.
The custom of red eggs
On Thursday, the women take hard-boiled eggs and dye them red. The eggs symbolize the empty rock tomb of Jesus after resurrection, while the red color represents Christ’s blood. On Easter Sunday, the tradition has everyone gathered around the festive table, trying to crack each other’s egg by tapping the “opponent’s” egg with their own. The “winner”, whose egg remains intact, is believed to have good luck throughout the year. Also, on this day, the Easter breads (tsourekia) are baked, as well as the delicious melitinia, to be tasted no sooner than Saturday night, after the Resurrection Liturgy.
Good Friday at Pyrgos
On Good Friday, in every village, the girls decorate the Epitaph of Christ with flowers in the churches. Then, in the evening, the Epitaph is paraded through the streets, with the followers holding candles and singing hymns. But especially in Pyrgos, one of Santorini’s castle villages, the atmosphere created in the evening is really magical. The villagers light up thousands of aluminum cans stuffed with flammable material and place them literally everywhere: on the rooftops, in front of every house and church, in all the paths and streets, even on the Venetian castle. The whole village is ablaze, creating a spectacular picture, an unforgettable atmosphere.
Let the Easter feast begin!
On Saturday night, near midnight, people are gathered at churches to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. The priest passes the Holy Flame and everybody light their candles with it and sing “Christos Anesti” (Christ is Risen). Then they go home to have a festive supper, while preparing the lamb for roasting on the next day. Because Greek Easter is truly incomplete without lamb, which is roasted over a fire pit for several hours, and then offered to family, friends, guests, neighbors, even strangers, accompanied by the exquisite local wine. People eat, drink, sing and dance all day through!
In truth, all these celebrations go beyond religious beliefs. Everyone can participate and enjoy them simply because of their beauty, authenticity and uniqueness. It is a truly magical experience, not to be missed.