The top 15 destinations for Easter with the special traditions
Easter is a special celebration on this Ionian island and lovers of traditions should definitely visit it at least once to see how it is celebrated. During Holy Week the old city is dressed in mourning purple to commemorate the Holy Passion. On Good Thursday the philharmonic bands rehearse flooding the alleys with sounds while on Good Friday the Epitaphs parade with their accompaniment and a large crowd of people. On Good Saturday in the first Resurrection tens of thousands of people watch the throwing of the traditional jugs, "botides" as they are called in Corfu, falling from Liston and the surrounding balconies and Spianada Square is shaking from the barrage.
2. Pyrgos in Santorini
Every Good Friday the custom of tins puts Pyrgos at the center of Santorini. Residents light up tins in the alleys and on the outlines of houses and churches to point the way to the Epitaph. The custom started after the devastating earthquake of 1956 when everything was destroyed and the residents were looking for a way to light the road where the Epitaph would pass. The solution was provided by a factory that made tomatoes, the residents took tins filled them with oil and lit up all the alleys that the Epitaph would pass. Be careful if there is a strong wind because they give off a lot of sparks.
In the magical setting of the old city, the processions of the Epitaphs of the two parishes, Agios Georgios of the 16th century and Panagia of the 18th, follow different courses through the alleys to meet in Syntagma Square where a prayer takes place in the midst of a crowd of people. A very good proposal for those who want to spend Easter near Athens.
For those who want to spend the Easter in an atmosphere of religious devotion Meteora is the ideal destination. Perched as they are on the steep cliffs, it is as if they are trying to reach the sky anyway. You can watch the Epitaph in the 16th century Barlaam monastery with the bells ringing mournfully like piano keys.
Experience a different kind of Easter in the catechetical atmosphere of the Byzantine castle state of the Peloponnese. Watch the Easter liturgies at the church of Elkomenos Christos in the square with the cannon (pictured) and at Panagia Chrysafitissa. The procession of the Epitaphs takes place in the cobblestones. For those who endure, the Epitaph of Elkomenos Christos climbs the steps to the castle and ends at Hagia Sophia church on the rock. On Easter Sunday the burning of Judas takes place.
Leonidio is also particularly known for its Easter and this is due to the custom of hot air balloons. It was brought at the end of the 19th century by sailors who saw it in Asia. On the night of the Resurrection the sky is lighted up by thousands of lanterns that the residents make with their own hands to celebrate the Lord's Resurrection in this way. On Sunday in the square events take place by the Municipality with local food, dances with live music and flying of even bigger balloons.
The scenery in Spetses is also wonderful. On Good Friday the Epitaphs of Agios Nikolaos (pictured), Analipsi, Agios Antonios and Agios Ioannis meet in Poseidonio Square where a prayer follows. For the night of the Resurrection I suggest Agios Nikolaos, the church where the people of Spetses proclaimed the Revolution in 1821. It follows a rich spectacle with fireworks something that Spetses is famous for anyway due to the Armata festival. On the night of the Resurrection in Analipsi (the fishermen's parish) a boat gets on fire in the church yard. On Easter Sunday Judas is been burned in Dapia.
The Epitaphs end at the harbour under the sounds of the philharmonic where litted torches are placed in a row inside the venetian harbour and the battlements while a flaming cross hangs at the harbour's entrance. At the statue of Cervantes, the prayer takes place while a rich spectacle with fireworks follows. All this is really an impressive sight.
Easter is also special in Syros where Orthodox and Catholic Easters are celebrated together regardless of whether they coincide. The churches that star are Agios Nikolaos the Rich in Vaporia, the Transfiguration of the Savior, the Dormition of the Virgin and San George, the Catholic church in Ano Syros. The processions of the Epitaphs take place in the alleys, with choirs singing and the philharmonic playing. The Orthodox Epitaphs and the Catholic one meet in Miaouli Square, the 19th century marble square, which is packed with people and a prayer follows. On the night of the Resurrection fireworks illuminate the sky everywhere in Ermoupolis while the ships in the harbour sound their horns.
The procession of the Epitaph takes place in the sea in the district of Kaminia and this is to bless the waters for the sailors to have good voyages. What few people know is that the 1968 movie "Mermaids and Tough Guys" and the 1984 "Let's Love Each Other Darling" were filmed there. In Hydra the Epitaphs meet at the harbour after circumambulating through the alleys. In the Metropolis "Christos Anesti" is sung in the outer space of the church where are the cells of the monks since it was once a monastery.
The Apocalypse Island could not be missing from this list. On Good Thursday in Chora, in the square of the Town Hall, the reenactment of the Last Supper and the Wash Basin ceremony take place, something that only happens in Patmos and Jerusalem. The abbot of the monastery of Saint John Theologos washes the feet of monks who represent the disciples of Jesus, the custom has its roots in the Byzantine years. There are also several points of interest, the most important being the Cave of the Apocalypse where Jesus' disciple John wrote the prophetic book of Revelation in 95 AD. Other points of interest are the monastery of Zoodochos Pigi with the miraculous icon of Panagia Eleousa, the church of Panagia Diasozousa and the monastery of Evangelismos.
12. Porto Heli
The Easter liturgies are held in Evangelistria an island-style church next to the sea. On Sunday the burning of Judas takes place on a boat in the bay of Porto Heli followed by a spectacle with fireworks and floodlights.
In Avlemonas the peculiarity is found in the procession of the Epitaph. The residents have lighted up with burning tins every point of the streets that passes as well as the bay up to the lighthouse while a flaming cross is formed in the bay. In Chora the liturgies are held at Estavromenos. The Epitaph's procession is going through the alleys to the venetian castle which is also illuminated by lit tins.
The Easter in Zakynthos is special with its own color and typical of the religious ceremonies and customs that the inhabitants respect and observe with reverence. At noon on Good Friday at the church of Agios Nikolaos of Molos the procession of the Crucified takes place accompanied by a philharmonic band through the streets of the city. It ends in the square in front of the church where a prayer is held. The Epitaph of the Metropolitan church of Agios Nikolaos ton Xenon takes place at 4 am on Good Saturday as the custom dictates. The first Resurrection takes place in St. Mark's Square with a lot of noise and breaking of pitchers.
The Easter in the Messinian capital is getting more and more popular thanks to the beauties of the city while at the center of interest is the church of Ypapanti. The procession of the epitaph takes place in the city of Kalamata with a large crowd and accompanied by the philharmonic band. A well-known custom that takes place is the "saitopolemos" on Easter Sunday night a noisy custom with dynamite-like structures that burst into flames. However there are questions about the safety of this custom.