Easter is one of the most important religious celebrations in Greece.
Each island in Greece has its own unique way of celebrating Easter, with various customs and traditions unique to their local communities.
On the island of Patmos, the Easter celebrations begin on Holy Monday when the icon of the Virgin Mary is carried in a procession through the streets. On Holy Thursday, the tradition of the “washing of the feet” takes place a custom which represents Christ’s washing off the feet of His students before the Last Supper, while on Good Friday, a solemn procession carrying the Epitaphios takes place through the streets.
In Crete, Easter celebrations are known for their traditional music and dance, with the “Anastenaria” dance, a tradition where people take turns dancing around a fire, being a highlight.
On the island of Mykonos, the Holy Week is marked by the “Koulouma” tradition, which sees locals preparing baskets of food to be offered to their neighbors.
In Santorini Island during the Holy Week they whitewash their houses, decorate the churches with flowers while they prepare local delicacies like melitinia. A visit at Pyrgos on Good Friday is a unique experience that will leave you astonished.
The Ionian Islands are no exception to the traditions for Easter. Each island on the Ionian has its own unique way of celebrating, but certain customs are universal throughout this group of islands. The most significant of these shared by all Ionian Islands is the Quake of the Resurrection. On Holy Saturday the “earthquake of Love” is taking place. The earthquake – symbolic of the earthquake which broke Christ’s tomb – represents the Resurrection and new life in a contradictory manner. In Zante (or Zakynthos) and Corfu, the Quake of the Resurrection is celebrated by the conventional “Botides.” Customarily, the “Botides” are rockets fired into the sky, and their explosive sound creates a robust and thrilling atmosphere. The sound of breaking pots is used as a poignant feature of the Botides tradition in Corfu, with people throwing clay pots out of their windows or balconies, bursting them onto the streets, representing the resurrection and the birth of new life.
Additionally, the Holy Week processions and the Epitaphios procession are held in significant towns throughout the Ionian Islands, expressing the island communities’ shared faith and respect for tradition. In Lefkada on Holy Friday you may assist at a gathering of all downtown’s churches’ Epitaphios while accompanied by the crowd and the local band playing traditional mourning music.
In conclusion, Easter in the Greek islands is a beautiful and spiritual experience full of traditions and customs, offering an opportunity to learn more about the religious and cultural roots of Greece.