MEMORABLE MYCONIAN EASTER!
Easter is a great opportunity to celebrate Spring in Mykonos.
By this time of the year, nature blossoms and you will be astounded by the friendly Greek sun and wonderful countryside.
You may take a stroll and wander the Chora alleys, visit Mykonos’ small villages or simply relax at magnificent Ornos beach only 5 km from Mykonos chora.
If you are a daredevil, you might even attempt your first swim of the season with us!
Your special Sundays’ lunch located at Ornos Beach!
Sunday 28th of April
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The Greek Orthodox Church
The state religion of Greece is Greek Orthodox, part of the wider Eastern Orthodox Church. It is a Christian religion, taking its inspiration from the Bible and practicing a faith spread by the Apostles of Jesus. In some ways it is very similar to the Roman Catholic Church, although the Eastern Orthodox Church does not have a Pope figure as the absolute head of the church. The Greek Orthodox Church still plays an important role throughout society Greek society. 98% of the Greek population is Greek orthodox, and priests are a regular presence in daily life, and still bless tavernas, cafes and offices in a special ceremony. Visiting Greece or her islands you’ll see evidence of the Greek Orthodox Church with your very own eyes. There are countless churches and chapels of all kinds of sizes and shapes – with over 500 on our little island paradise of Mykonos alone!
What is Greek Orthodox Easter?
Greek Orthodox Easter is the most important celebration in the church’s calendar. It marks the day Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion. Like the Western Christian Easter, the Greek Orthodox Easter period begins with Lent and a period of fasting. This starts on ‘Clean Monday’, the start of the seventh week before easter. On Clean Monday (which is also a national holiday), Greek people traditionally eat special ‘lagana’ bread and seafood and fly kites. Clean Monday this year was on the 14th March. There is a Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday, commemorating the events in Jesus’ life before his crucifixion on Good Friday. In 2016 Easter Sunday will be on the 1st of May, which is later than the Western Christianity Easter date because the Greek Orthodox Church uses the older Julian Calendar as opposed to the now commonly used Gregorian Calendar. Easter (or ‘Pasha’) is a truly spectacular and memorable celebration throughout Greece, so we thought we’d give you a bit of a breakdown of some of the fascinating island traditions that we’re very familiar with as they take place in Mykonos.
Greek Orthodox Easter Traditions in Mykonos
40 days before Easter Sunday, on the first Saturday after Clean Monday, a procession begins at the Panagia Tourliani Monastery in Ano Mera in the centre of the island. Priests carry a holy icon from the Monastery followed by pilgrims during a 8km procession west to the Chora, the main town in Mykonos. The icon is then displayed in the Church of Life Giving Spring, the town’s main church in Alefkandra square. Children accompany the procession with wreaths made from palm leaves. Five weeks later, on Lazarus Saturday (the day before Palm Sunday) the icon is returned back to Ano Mera. This Saturday is also the day when traditional bakeries throughout Mykonos prepare a delicacy called ‘lazarika’. This is a sweet spicy bread with currants that is shaped like a little man with his arms crossed in a shroud and with cloves for eyes. It represents Saint Lazarus of Bethany, who Jesus raised from the dead. Lazarika is made without dairy, which shouldn’t be eaten during Lent. As the Holy Week continues, the bakeries produce more special bread (food is a very important part of Greek celebrations, as you may have guessed!). ‘Lambrokouloures’ is another sweet bread with braids that symbolise the Holy Trinity, and is decorated with special red eggs (more on those later).
Good Friday in Mykonos is a rare occasion when an otherwise vibrant island turns solemn, as women in churches throughout Mykonos sing gospel lament songs about Jesus’ crucifixion, replicating the sorrows of the Virgin Mary as she wept for her son. There is then a quiet procession, as a casket (commonly referred to as a bier) representing the body of Jesus, and beautifully decorated with flowers, is carried through the villages with worshippers following. The mood is very downbeat and solemn, and an anathema to the archetypal Greek celebrations. On this day bakeries will produce yet more breads, this time in the shape of the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
After the sorrow of Good Friday, the night of Holy Saturday marks a total transformation! Locals gather outside the island’s churches just before midnight to celebrate the resurrection of Christ in an unforgettable ceremony where a priest holds aloft the Holy Light (a candle lit from Jerusalem) and proceeds to light the candles of each worshipper gathered in front of the church. The vision of a sea of lighted candles, fireworks, and people kissing one another proclaiming “Christos Anesti” (Christ has risen) is truly magical. Everyone then returns from the churches to their homes carrying their candles and will proceed to scorch the sign of the cross in the doorway above their front door with the candle as a way of blessing their house for the coming year. They will then enjoy a traditional meal to celebrate the end of fasting, often a soup called ‘mageiritsa’ made from vegetables and the boiled parts of a lamb (it’s nicer than it sounds!).
Welcome to Greece!