We continue from the last post with the Easter celebration in Greece. Last time we stopped to the Great Thursday that the tsoureki and the red eggs are prepared.
Holy Friday is a day of mourning since Jesus died on the cross. Bells will ring slow and steady through the day and the Greek flags all over the country are lowered to the half-mast. It is a day of no work or cooking. Friday’s food has to be prepared from the previous day.
From Thursday’s night women are decorating with flowers and flower petals a wooden structure representing the Jesus’s grave. The name of it is Epitaphios (Επιτάφιος).
Friday noon the nails that hold the figure of Christ are pulled out and the figure is taken off the cross and wrapped in a white cloth. Throughout the day, people are going to church passing under the Epitafios on knees until the time of 19.00 o’clock, when the Epitaphios will be taken on hands in a funeral service. Epitaphios is carried through the streets in a solemn procession. In cities, towns and villages with more than one church the Epitaphios parades may join together at certain points.
On Saturday the Orthodox Patriarch emerges the Holy Fire from the tomb of Christ in Jeruselem. The Holy Fire is flown and transferred to the airport of Athens. From there the light is distributed all over Attika and the rest of the Greece.
Shortly before the midnight of Saturday, pretty much the entire country is in the church. There will be so many people, that they will just gather outside of the church. Often churches are equiped with speakers to be able to hear the priest inside. Everyone will bring along with them a white candle and the children their special candle which we call lapmbada(Λαμπάδα), which is nothing else than a decorated candle. The lights are turned off at midnight and the priest announces that Christ has arisen from the dead. The light is given from one to the other and soon the whole church is illuminated by the light of everyone’s candles. The bells ring in celebration, fireworks go off and ships sound their sirens.
Then everyone heads for home with their lighted candles where they trace the cross three times above the door for blessing. The fast of the 40 days is time to break with a traditional bowl of margeritsa(μαγειρίτσα), a thick green soup made from the intestines of the lamb that will be grilled the following day.
A tradition with the red (κόκκινο) eggs takes place as well. It is named “tsougrisma”(τσούγκρισμα). It is a kind of competition among people. Each one takes an egg in their hand, with one end of the egg sticking out. Taking it in turns with their partner, one will hit the opponent’s egg with their own egg. The person whose egg cracks is out of the round. The winner then goes on to another round with someone else and so on until only one left with the strongest egg.