Friday 1st January 2021: New Year’s Day (Πρωτοχρονιά)
January 1 is one of the most important days for celebrations, not only because it is the first day of the year, but also the Feast of Agios Vasilis (Αγιος Βασίλης). A Vasilopita (a special cake with a hidden coin inside) is cut in Greek households, and whoever is lucky enough to get the coin in their slice has a very lucky year! On this day also, Christmas gifts are given to children by Saint Basil (Αγιος Βασίλης), who is the Greek Santa Claus.
Wednesday 6th January 2021: Epiphany (Θεοφάνεια)
On January 6 the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ in the river Jordan. The religious day starts with church service and continues with the Blessing of the Water ceremony (held at the nearest body of water – sea, lake, river) where young men dive into the water to retrieve the wooden cross tossed in by the Archbishop, Bishop or Priest, in the hope of retrieving it for good luck.
Monday 15th March 2021: Clean Monday (Καθαρά Δευτέρα)
Clean Monday is the first day of Great Lent in the Greek Orthodox Church. Special events and activities take place which feature plenty of music, dancing and delicious fasting food (including olives, taramasalata, Halva, legumes and lagana bread), marking the start of this special Greek Orthodox period of fasting and contemplation.
Thursday 25th March 2021: Greek Independence Day and the Annunciation of the Lord
The 25th March has a dual important significance for Greek People.
Annunciation of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary): This Holy day in the church calendar celebrates the day Archangel Gabriel came to Mary with a message from God that she would conceive his son, Jesus Christ.
Greek National Independence Day: On March 25th, 1821, Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the Greek flag at the Monastery of Agia Lavra in Peloponnese and the Greeks declared the Revolutionary War against the Turks. This day marks the freedom and independence from the Turkish rule and the end of the 400 year Ottoman Empire in Greece.
On this day, many Greeks will attend church in the morning, followed by a memorial service. In Athens to celebrate Independence Day, a large military parade occurs on the main street of Syntagma, in front of the Parliament building.
Friday 30th April 2021: Good Friday (Μεγάλη Παρασκευή)
Holy Friday is the most sacred day of Holy Week and is a day of mourning. It is the day that commemorates the Passion of Christ, with his funeral. In the evening there is a procession and the Epitaphio (tomb of Christ) is carried around the church and surrounding streets, accompanied by parishioners holding candles alight.
Sunday 2nd May 2021: Easter Sunday (Κυριακή του Πάσχα)
At midnight, The Anastasi, the Resurrection, takes place. The priest passes the Holy Flame throughout the congregation and everyone chants “Christos Anesti” (“Christ is Risen”).
Monday 3rd May 2021: Easter Monday (Δευτέρα του Πάσχα)
The Day after Easter Sunday, is Easter Monday. It is celebrated as a holiday in Christian cultures.
Saturday 1st May 2021: Labor Day (Εργατική Πρωτομαγιά)
May 1st is International Labor Day and ‘Protomagia’ meaning the first day of May. It is a celebration of spring, nature and flowers, and to honour the day there will be many parades and other festivities around Greece. Many people traditionally go to the countryside for a picnic, to fly kites and gather wild flowers for the flower wreath that will hang on their front door of their house.
Monday 21st June 2021: Holy Spirit Monday (Αγίου Πνεύματος)
Monday of the Holy Spirit is a celebration following Pentecost, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ. It is a religious holiday which marks the descent of the Holy Spirit to the disciples.
Sunday 15th August 2021: Dormition of the Holy Virgin (Η Κοίμηση της Θεοτόκου)
August 15 ‘Dekapentavgoustos’ is one of the most important dates in the Greek Orthodox Calendar, as the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is celebrated. It is a national and religious holiday that marks the “falling asleep” of Panagia, Mother of Lord Jesus Christ, and commemorates the Assumption of the body of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokoss into heaven.
Thursday 28th October 2021: OXI Day (Το Όχι)
OXI Day, October 28, commemorates the anniversary when in 1940 former military general and Prime Minister of Greece, Ioannis Metaxas said “OXI” (NO) to an ultimatum made by Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, an ally of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The day represents bravery, solidarity and heroism for millions of Greeks all around the world. Parades and the waving of the Greek flag proudly occurs across the entire country,.
Saturday 25th December 2021: Christmas Day (Χριστούγεννα)
On December 25, the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Nativity of Christ. The feast of the birth of Jesus is also known as the ‘Incarnation of Christ’ meaning that Jesus became a man and came into the world. It’s a time for families to come together and celebrate.
Sunday 26th December 2021: Synaxis of the Mother of God (Σύναξις Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου Μαρίας)
The Synaxis of the Mother of God, also known as the Glorifying of the Mother of God, is a day dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
*Image by Nick Bourdaniotis/Bourdo Photography (Copyright)