Happy Easter, everyone! Orthodox Easter is next week, mind you, but I thought it made more sense for me to post this today.
I know that, for most of you, Easter is about bunnies dropping chocolate eggs all over gardens (not to be confused with another, less sanitary kind of bunny droppings). For Greeks, though, it’s much, much more.
For example, rockets.
You may remember from last year’s Easter post how big a part fireworks of varying bang play. Then, there’s mayiritsa, skewered lamb, white candles, and red eggs.
No, I’m not making it up. Neither is it an April Fools’ Day joke.
As Birmingham Live explains, the fasting of Lent continues throughout Holy Week, which ends on Easter Sunday. Preparations begin on Holy Thursday. Easter bread (tsoureki) is baked and eggs are colored with red dye. Red is the color of life and also symbolic of the blood of Christ.
Good Friday is a day of mourning. The most devout do not eat or cook at all, but if any cooking must be done, it’s foods such as lentil soup.
Flowers are taken to church to decorate a representation of the body of Christ, which is carried in a procession during an early evening Service of Lamentation.
The main date is Easter Sunday, or Easter Day, which is when Christ’s Resurrection took place. Preparations, however, start much earlier. In Greece itself, the Eternal Flame arrives by military jet on Easter Saturday and is given to the priests to take to their local churches. Families prepare mayiritsa, a soup made from lamb offal and tripe, cooked on the stove with onions and herbs (plus an egg and lemon sauce that’s mixed in at the end). Sometimes it’s made with chicken instead. It’s usually left on a low heat when everyone goes to church in the evening so it can be eaten when they get back.
Close to midnight, Easter Saturday, worshippers go to church with special white candles (traditionally brought to you by your godfather/godmother) which are lit just before midnight as the Eternal Flame on the altar is passed around the congregation. At midnight, the whole country comes to life with church bells, ships’ horns, floodlights, and fireworks.
Traditionally, the worshippers carry their flame home and use it to light other candles in the house. Families then gather around the table and break their fast with soup, bread, and eggs. Some, however, prefer instead to attend the after midnight early morning prayer services and communion.
On Easter Sunday morning, a meal of roast lamb is made and households enjoy a feast of eating and drinking until well into the night.