Greek Easter in Crete
is celebrated with many local customs and traditions. Easter ('Paska') is the most important holiday in Greece, and in the Greek Orthodox Church. Greek Orthodox Easter usually falls one to five weeks after the western (Protestant, Catholic) Easter, while approximately once every four years it falls on the same date.
Holy Week (Megali Evdomada) starts Monday 13th April 2020
The week leading up to Easter is known as Holy Week (Megali Evdomada) and this is when most people take their fasting seriously. Church services are held throughout Holy Week. Many tavernas close during this week, and the ones that stay open have mostly seafood and vegetable dishes on their menu. The women dye eggs red (symbolizing the blood of Christ) and bake Easter biscuits 'koulourakia' and kalitsounia (cheese pies), to be eaten after Easter Saturday when the fast ends.
Good Friday (Megali Paraskevi) 17th April 2020
Good Friday is a day of mourning and churches usually ring out the death toll throughout the morning - a steady toll of one ring of the bell. The evening church service starts at 7pm and after the service, at around 8.30pm, there is a subdued procession through the streets carrying the epitaph, or coffin, with the congregation following behind, usually all dressed in black. Town shops are normally open 11am-3pm and supermarkets 8am-5pm on Good Friday, while many tavernas remain closed today.
Easter Saturday (Megalo Sabbato) 18th April 2020
In Crete, village children spend the day preparing a bonfire and an effigy of Judas outside the church to burn after the midnight service. The Anastasi, the Resurrection, takes place at midnight and is the culmination of Holy Week. Churches across Greece are packed from 11pm onwards for the service and the lighting of the Holy Flame at midnight. Many tavernas are open after the midnight service. The 40-day fast ends at midnight today so the meat is back on the menu and it's becoming very popular to celebrate the Anastasi and the start of Easter at a taverna or 'kentro' with live music.
Town shops close at around 3pm and supermarkets around 5pm today.
Easter Sunday 19 April 2020
Easter Sunday tradition is the roasting of lamb outside on a spit family and friends usually get together for a big party with plenty of food, wine, music, and dancing. If friends or neighbors are hosting an Easter party outside you'll likely be hailed for a celebratory drink and 'meze' with them if you happen to pass by their house - the more the merrier!
If you are formally invited beforehand it is not expected that you take anything with you, but taking along 'glyka' - cakes or biscuits - will always be appreciated. Shops and supermarkets are closed today. Museums and archaeological sites closed.
Tavernas are usually open.