Easter is without a doubt the greatest Christian celebration in Greece. Schools close, the houses get cleaned, the supermarkets are crowded, and in every single town or village there are unique traditions that make the week leading up to Easter extra special.
Greek Easter is unique in every town, village, or Greek island, but the island of Spetses, also known as the “contessa” of the Argo-Saronic Gulf, is probably one of the best choices one can make to visit Greece for Easter. Celebrating Easter in Spetses proves to be a bustling affair, with the island overflowing with visitors. And once everybody is there the traditions begin…
Good Wednesday is saved for the baking of tsourekia. Coming from the Turkish word ´corek´, the actual Greek version is ´lambropsomo´ which means bright bread or the bread of Easter, of Lambri. It is a symbol of Jesus´ resurrection as the flour turns to bread, symbolizing the gift of life. Deriving from pagan roots, the braids stand for the banishment of evil spirits. Tsoureki is one of the most time-consuming cooking recipes. But it is really worth the trouble as it is one of the most tasteful sweetbreads for little Greeks and older Greeks alike. The best part? The best part is probably that while walking around the island the distinctive smell of tsourekia will hit you along with the magnetic smell of the blossomed trees and flowers that ‘wake up’ during this time. The result? The sense of smell is directly connected to memories, and this scenery along with its smells and tastes is probably something you will never forget.
The next day, on Good Thursday, you will notice the tradition of red egg dying. Holy Thursday was the day of the Last Supper when Jesus offered his students some wine and bread symbolizing his blood and body sacrifice to save the world. The Greek Christian tradition uses the eggs as a symbol of fertility and the beginning of a new life circle.
This brings us to Good Friday in Spetses. On Good Friday, Poseidonion Square, one of the most known places on the island with the imposing hotel standing out in the square, is full of people. Epitaphs of Saint Anthony, Saint John, Saint Nicholas, and the Ascension, adorned with white flowers, gather in front of the historic Poseidonion Hotel. During the tradition of the epitaph processions the people hold candles that illuminate the night spring sky.
On the Resurrection night, church-goers attend churches late at night to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the Church of the Ascension, the Spetsiotes have a spectacular tradition. They set a boat on fire to revoke memories of the revolutionary past of the island where the Greek War for Independence began. After church and despite the fact that it is after midnight, Greeks gather with their friends and family to eat mageiritsa-the traditional soup that is specially prepared for this night.
On Easter Sunday, if you are in Spetses you must visit Kounoupitsa Square to see another unique tradition – the burning of an effigy of Judas. And then the Greek glenti begins. All day on Easter Sunday you can hear Greek music traveling from every home, yard, and square, you can smell the special Greek delicacies of this day, and see Greeks dancing sometimes in their yards and some other times on the streets of the island.
There is no doubt that the unique setting of the cosmopolitan island, the atmosphere of springtime, along with the special traditions and the important place that Easter holds in the hearts of Greeks, make Greek Easter in Spetses a time to remember forever.
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