Monday, April 18, 2011

"Pascha" (Easter) in Greece!

              Today is "Megali Deftera", or, "Great Monday", the beginning of the Greek Holy Week.  I will be sharing a bit of Greek Easter Holiday customs and culture with you this week.  
 Vasili and I will be leaving for Crete, which is his place of origin, so my postings will leave off on Thrusday evening, but when I return, I hope to have a slew of wonderful photos to share with you.  I have never been to Crete in the Springtime, and likewise, never for Easter, but I have always wanted to, and at last I will be able to fulfill that wish.  We will be staying in a very small traditional village named; "Samonas" high atop a mountain in the Xania area on the north west shore of Crete.  It should be a great experience.

  Here are some images of "Megali Evdomada"

A gift shop selling "Labadas".  Greek Easter Candles

In Greece, the Easter eggs are dyed a deep red, to symbolize the blood of Christ.  They are then polished to a high shine using Olive Oil and hold a special place on Easter day, when they are used in competion to see who can survive in an egg cracking attack, where each holds his egg in his own special grip,  and "taps" it against his challenger, the winner being the one whose egg does not crack. 
The "Egg Challenge"

My first Easter in Greece, Vasili's granddaughter was winning every egg challenge...only to learn that she had replaced her egg with a red wooden one!

Greek Easter Bread,  Tsoureki

Here is a man taking home his Easter Lamb.

"Easter is the biggest celebration of the Orthodox Christians and the one richest in folklore. The word "Pascha", Easter in Greek, stems from the Jewish "Pasah" which means "Passover". Jewish people celebrated "Pasah" to commemorate their liberation from the Egyptians and the passage of the Red sea, while Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ the Saviour and the passage from death to life. The corresponding Greek word for "Pascha" is "Lambri" (Brightness) because the day of the resurrection of Christ is a day full of joy and exhilaration. Easter is a moveable holiday. Its celebration falls on the first Sunday after the full moon of the spring equinox. Easter is by far the holiest of Greek holidays, but it is also the most joyous, a celebration of spring, of rebirth in its literal as well as figurative sense. Greeks leave the cities in droves to spend Easter in the countryside, usually in their own ancestral villages."

Today, Greek women all over the county will begin their shopping for the biggest and most important Greek holiday. 

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