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April 9, 2012


HOLY WEEK (Megali evdomada)

     Today begins the most important week of the Orthodox calendar: It is Megali Evdomada-Holy Week (Literally:'Great Week'). (The Eastern Orthodox Church follows a modified Julian calendar, different than the rest of Christendom, which means that Orthodox Easter often falls on a different date).  Most of the  Greeks, even if they haven't fasted in the previous weeks during Lent, will do so now and this week the fasting is complete.
    In Greek, Easter is called Pasha, meaning passover: It is the eternal Passover from death to life and from earth to heaven. During this period part of our greeting each other, is wishing "Kalo Pasha" (Good Easter). We wish "Kali Anastasi" (Good Resurrection) when Easter Sunday is very close, especially after Holy Thursday and Holy Friday.

     During Holy Week there is a frenzy of preparations for Easter. That preparation means the cleaning and decoration of the house, the baking of the Easter biscuits (koulouria) and Easter bread (tsoureki) and the dyeing of the eggs. Getting the shopping done as early as possible for the big feast on Easter Sunday is another concern for all housewives. Many families leave the big cities and go to their villages (cottages) to celebrate the Easter Holidays. ( I must add that the schools are closed for two weeks, this one and the one after Easter. It's sort of, our Springbreak!).
     During Holy Week the churches are full each evening as the people follow, once more the Passion of Our Lord. Every day has a special service and the byzantine hymns are so beautiful this week.

    While there are many local customs associated with Easter, there are several observed by all, f.e. on Holy Tuesday, housewives make sweet rolls, the koulourakia, and the following day on Holy Wednesday they do the housework and boil the eggs so they are ready for the dying, while in the evening they follow the blessing of Holy Oil that takes place in church.

     There are so many customs and traditions about the celebration of Easter in Greece but I will tell you the most important and that only is going to need more than one post. So, stay tuned......!

     In the meantime I posted a short video that gives you an idea and a small summary of  Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations: 


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