Peloponnese ritual Easter

Celebrating Easter in Greece

Easter in Greece is the most important and widely celebrated holiday of the year and a great time to embark on an unforgettable luxury yacht charter. Over the course of this long weekend, communities join together in a joyous fusion of colourful festivities and traditional customs, creating a unique opportunity to experience the heart of Greek culture.

Fireworks celebrate Easter in Greece
Cross on fire on Greek Island Santorini
Santorini Cross Fire

For over a week every April/May, Greece becomes a hive of spiritual, religious, theatrical and metaphysical activity in tribute to the resurrection of Christ. From the Ionian Islands to the Cyclades, each region has its own individual events during the course of the celebrations with preparations starting the week before, known locally as ‘Megáli Evdomáda’ (Holy Week) which is the final phase of the 40-day fast.

Hard boiled eggs painted red for Easter in Greece
Greek people playing traditional easter game

During this sacred time town communities join together each evening in their churches surrounded by the swathes of black velvet that decorate the walls and altars adorned with woven flowers. There is also the tradition of egg daubing, where eggs are hard boiled and painted red to represent the rebirth of life. They are then used in a game of tsougrisma which involves two players who each lightly tap the  others egg – the winner being the player who manages to crack the other players egg and will then enjoy good luck for the rest of the year.

Greek church at Easter

Good Friday in Greece is a time of mourning and observed as a day to remember the dramatic events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. The atmosphere is solemn and the traditional ritual lament called the ‘Procession of the Epitáphios of Christ’ takes place. This entails an Epitaph (Bier of Christ) which has been decorated by members of the parish, carried through the streets at dusk in a procession that ends with a re-enactment of the burial of Jesus Christ.

For over a week every April/May, Greece becomes a hive of spiritual, religious, theatrical and metaphysical activity in tribute to the resurrection of Christ.

Priests in Greece during Easter festival

On Saturday, the build up to Easter Sunday begins and gifts in the form of chocolate eggs, traditional cakes and sweet Easter loaves are given and the churches are decked out in white and red. As night falls people begin to form congregations outside the churches and just before midnight the bells chime and the priests emerge, chanting in deep baritone voices. The streets are then plunged into darkness but for one flame held by the priest that was flown to Athens from Jerusalem and disseminated across Greece over the duration of the week.

Fireworks celebrate Easter in Hydra

Slowly, one by one, each of the congregation light their candle from the Holy Flame which spreads until a flickering of lights illuminates the streets. 12 loud, sharp drum beats announce midnight and proclaim that ‘Christós Anésti’ (Christ has risen), triggering an explosion of kaleidoscopic fireworks to punctuate the ink black sky. This is also when one of the most iconic Easter celebrations begins – the ‘rouketopolemos’ – where rival parishioners fire hand-made fireworks at one another’s church towers. The winning village is the one which scores the most direct hits on the other’s church.

Traditional "Souvla" Lamb in Hydra Greece

The early hours of Easter Sunday mark the breaking of the 40 day fast and once the liturgies are over, people go home to eat the traditional meal of ‘maghiritsa’ (tripe and herbs soup) with their family. Over the next day friends and family get together to feast on lamb this is roasted outside on spits along with a spread of Greek delicacies. The wine flows and dancing and music go on late into the night as another Easter comes to an end.

The diversity of the Greek islands and the breath taking combination of natural beauty and historical importance that the region has to offer make it one of the world’s most exciting Mediterranean superyacht destinations any time of year. A yacht charter during the Easter holiday period however will add a special dimension to your itinerary with a chance to be a part of the exuberant atmosphere.

View all  luxury superyachts available for charter in Greece and contact your preferred yacht broker to start creating your dream summer charter vacation.


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Ulysse Nardin