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April 12, 2012

HOLY FRIDAY

                                                Holy Friday


      Holy or Great Friday - Megali Paraskevi for the Greeks, (Good Friday for Catholics) is the holiest day of this week (Megali Evthomatha). It is a day of mourning, not of work and that often includes no cooking, too. If we do cook it's going to be without oil, most likely boiled in water, f.e. lentil soup. The shops are closed till 1.00 p.m. Sweet things are not eaten today-for the love of Christ, who was given vinegar to drink. It is considered a great sin to work with a hammer or nails or sew on Good Friday.

      It is also the only day during the year when the Divine Liturgy is not read. Flags are hung at half-mast and church bells ring all day in a slow mournful tone.

      Traditionally, after the evening service on Holy Thursday the women and young girls undertake the decoration of the bier of Christ (epitaphios) with garlands of flowers, so that in the morning of Good Friday it is ready to receive the image of the body of Christ when He is taken down from the cross.





An embroidered cloth is placed on the bier; this is then sprinkled with flower petals. The priest places the Gospel (Evangelion) upon the Epitaphios.


      During the day, the churches are filled with people paying reverence to the Epitaphios.

      In the evening comes the service of the Epitaphios (Funeral Service/Service of Lamentation) which mourns the death of Christ and the bier is taken out of the church and carried through the streets in solemn procession, while a beautiful Byzantine hymn mourning the death of Christ is sung. Members of the congregation follow, carrying lighted candles.

      Finally the procession returns to the church and the Epitaphios is placed safely behind the gates at the front of the church; a priest then distributes handfuls of flower petals to the congregation.

     Following is a short video of the Epitaphios procession at the island of Samos:

                

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