Ever wonder what Easter is like in Greece? Me too! While we look forward to celebrating the Resurrection in Greece next year, this year we depend on reports from friends in Athens. Our future teammates Paul & Emma have offered several posts, pictures, and even a video about their experience of Easter in Greece. Check out their blog here. A big thanks to Paul & Emma for sharing their insights! To the left, a Roma (gypsy) man sells candles for a midnight service at the neighborhood plateia (central plaza or square). Paul and Emma have a short video of this midnight service on their blog. Here’s part of their description of Easter in Greece:
In Greece, it’s probably the biggest holiday of the year, on par with Christmas celebrations in the rest of Europe and the US. Today is Megali Paraskevi (Good Friday), a day of lamentation. Something which can only be described a ‘funeral for Jesus’ will take place in every city and village. The connection between Orthodoxy and Greek national identity are made blatantly obvious – in Athens, the evening service appears as a funeral for a national hero. Armed battalions from the Army and Navy flank the streets where the effigy of Christ will pass. The Archbishop will address the faithful from a pulpit that stands in front of the ‘tomb of the unknown solder’, the parliament building alight in the background. Personally, I enjoy the resurrection service much more, which doesn’t carry the same political undertones.
In addition to the public services, there are many of traditions, such as tsoureki – a sweet Greek bread. Again, here is Paul and Emma’s description of this unique tradition:
Tsoureki is a Greek sweet bread, and at this time of year they bake a hardboiled egg in the middle. The egg, dyed red, symbolises the blood of Christ. The bread itself carries different meanings, depending on who you ask: the yeast points to resurrection, the bread signifies the life that comes as a result of Christ’s death, the sweetness the joy of the empty tomb… It’s a rich symbol that will hopefully mean more to our friends than just a sweet treat.