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Greek Easter early May 2013

Swansea, United...
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Greek Easter early May 2013

Hi we are travelling to Rethymnon on 2nd May,the day before Greek Good Friday this year.What can we expect in Rethymnon during Greek Easter?Would we be welcome to attend religious events, being tourists?Can we expect some places to be closed?We would like to participate as much possible without being intrusive and any advice gratefully received.

Suffolk, United...
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1. Re: Greek Easter early May 2013

Hi swanseajen,

As a non-christian I would not want to watch or take part in a religious service as I feel it would not be fair to those for whom the service would be something really special. I think I would feel like a gawper. This is just a personal view.

I have heard that in other Greek towns there will be celebrations around after the service. I have no actual knowledge of Rethymnon itself.

On other posts it has been said that some shops will be closed on the Easter Sunday but not tavernas.

Hope this is a bit of help.

Bob

Athens, Greece
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2. Re: Greek Easter early May 2013

Hi swanseajen! Orthodox Easter is a wonderful time to be in Greece! There will be plenty of celebrations which you can take part in and visitors are always welcome, including the religious services. You're lucky that you're going to be there for Good Friday, when the Easter rituals begin. There will be a church service in the morning, at the end of which the body of Christ will be taken down from the cross and laid on a bier, called the Epitaphios, Later, in the evening, the Epitaphio will be brought out of the church and will be carried in procession through the town. (I should say that I haven't spent Easter in Rethymnon itself, but this is what happens all over Greece.) Each church will have its own Epitaphios procession.The Easter music is beautiful: the church bells will have been tolling all day; people will be carrying candles and lanterns. In a town like Rethymnon, I expect the different Epitaphios processions may meet in a central area - that is what usually happens on the islands and larger towns. On the Saturday the atmosphere is usually rather subdued: in their houses the people are putting the finishing touches to the preparations for the Easter lamb and the mayeiritsa soup, with which people break the long fast after midnight on Saturday. It's made from parts of the lamb which aren't roasted: liver, etc. Towards midnight people gather in the churches, waiting for the moment when the priests will come out of the sanctuary with the Easter flame (which has been brought by plane from the Holy Land) and it will be passed from candle to candle, until the whole church is ablaze with light. People start making their way home then, but many remain in the church until the Easter liturgy ends. (That could be an hour or so later: usually the red Easter eggs are given then, and often other goodies, like the rich Easter biscuits.) This is a wonderful time to be in Greece, and visitors always receive a special welcome. I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time!

About your other question: yes, shops will be closed, as on other Sundays; but I'm sure you won't have a problem in finding tavernas eager to offer you their traditional Easter dishes! And I forgot to mention the fire crackers- the one part of the celebrations I could do without -they're deafening! But children love them!

Oslo, Norway
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3. Re: Greek Easter early May 2013

Here is to give you an idea (this is from Naxos):

http://tinyurl.com/ddga86

http://tinyurl.com/y2a2kgc

Suffolk, United...
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4. Re: Greek Easter early May 2013

Hi Nikoletta,

What a wonderful description!

Bob

Athens, Greece
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5. Re: Greek Easter early May 2013

Oh, thank you, Bob - I thought it was maybe a bit OTT when I saw the final version! Just to add - my late husband was a non-Christian, too, and I haven't always been Greek Orthodox, but wherever we spent Greek Easter, no-one ever made any distinction between us and the other revellers.

Athens, Greece
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6. Re: Greek Easter early May 2013

It certainly is a wonderful time to be in Greece & something to experience.

The Friday evening Epitaphios procession can be really moving, as it generally starts as it's getting (or has become) dark & the crowd following with lit candles is quite a sight, especially from a church with a larger congregation.

On the Saturday night, again, really moving as the service builds for the midnight lighting of candles (started by the priest & each person turns to light others). The priest will say "Christos anesti", (Christ has arisen) & then so will others greet you that way, the response you should give is "alithos anesti" (he has truly arisen).

I am not religious at all, brought up C of E, never practiced, but I have to say the easter celebrations here in Greece never fail to move me.

A word of warning: Be prepared for some loud bangs, fireworks feature prominently & go crazy at midnight on the Saturday, often firecrackers being indiscriminately thrown, although not in city centres for obvious reasons! With candles involved both evenings it's when we really hope the weather will be kind, wind is really not good! I did cope with walking 15 mins uphill, keeping my candle alight, one year when it was raining. I was concentrating so hard on keeping my umbrella over the lit camdle as well as myself I didn't notice the wax had dripped all down the bottom my trouser legs :(

Some Easter photos from my adopted small town on the Peloponnese & some from Athens among these sets,

flickr.com/photos/…

flickr.com/photos/…

flickr.com/photos/…

flickr.com/photos/…

flickr.com/photos/…

Ask about the best church for each service once you are there, go along & watch, take a candle & enjoy the celebrations!

Newmarket, United...
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7. Re: Greek Easter early May 2013

Hi Nikoletta,

I agree — that was a wonderful description!

And as usual Erik has beautiful photographs for every occasion! :-)

Edit: And Yiassas, too! ;-)

Edited: 3:48 pm, April 07, 2013
Surrey, United...
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8. Re: Greek Easter early May 2013

Thank you Nicoletta for your great post we are off.agios NIkolaos in Crete on 30 th April and can't wait to experience our first Greek Easter we have got a couple of invites from Greek friends one for Easter Sunday and one for monday just wondering if you had any idea what we can take as a present ?

Rethymnon, Greece
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9. Re: Greek Easter early May 2013

Hi there,

You got very good descriptions from all the above. I'll tell you a couple of things more since I live in Rethymnon.

On Good Friday after about 10 am all the churches of the town are open with their flower decorated Epitaphio ready for the night service, and people are coming radomly to kiss on the Epitaphio. There is no service at that time so you can visit any church and check that out. Do not feel that you are intruding or anything like that.

On Good Friday night the best choice is to visit the Cathedral in the center of the old town in Mitropolis square at about 20:00 and at about 21:00 the Epithaphio will exit the Cathedral followed by the town band and all of them followed by many people with candles will meet at the main 4 Martyres square, just a couple of blocks from the cathedral, stay there for about 20 minutes as the Archbishop will address a blessing.

After that ppl usually go down to the old city taverns in Petihaki street for a meze, and return home.

On Saturday night you can go to the Cathedral again at about 23:30 and attent the Christos Anesti service of the churh and see all the people leaving the churh holding lanterns with it to bring it back home. We usually eat the Mayritsa dish after the church service.

On Easter day and the day after, every shop exept taverns will be closed. It is acustomed to eat lamb and many greeks leave town to visit the villages where they usually cook it on charcoal fire.

I hope it helps. If you want to ask me anything else don't hesitate

Edited: 6:01 pm, April 07, 2013
New Romney, United...
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10. Re: Greek Easter early May 2013

Hi, We came to Crete in April last year to be able to spend the Easter time. We were limited where to stay as not many fights out, but we stayed in the center of Rethymnon and it was really nice to be and we were made welcome by local people as we hired a car and traveled further west and down to Sfakia in the South and other villages. Nice memories ..