Easter is the greatest feast of Orthodoxy and it is celebrated in many different ways all throughout Greece.
The return to our roots, the contact with the nature in Spring, folk music and dances, delicious local dishes, red eggs and skewered lamb, all compose the image of the most joyful period.
Across the country, from north to south, and all around the Greek islands, Easter customs and traditions are preserved unchanged through the centuries.
Here are some of the most popular Easter destinations in Greece, that honour and welcome the holiday of Easter in special ways, offering unique experiences to visitors.
Easter on the island of Skiathos is a very mystical and all-encompassing experience. As narrated by one of the greatest Greek authors of all time, Alexandros Papadiamantis, Easter is the biggest celebration on the island, and all the inhabitants spend the “Week of the Passion” with reverence.
The mournful ringing of the church bells can be heard in all corners of the evergreen island, while a sweet melancholy overwhelms the unsuspected visitors, who are preparing for the large feast of the Easter Sunday.
Especially during Springtime, the island is filled with colourful flowers, creating a beautiful landscape and a great opportunity for an escape from the city.
Easter in Corfu is considered the most famous Easter in Greece. This harmonious combination of Venetian and Orthodox customs creates a unique experience that brings thousands of visitors to the island every year.
The best-known Easter tradition of Corfu is that of the large jugs – known as “botides”. The botides are tied to red ribbons, are filled with water, and are thrown one after the other from the ornate balconies of an iconic residential complex, called “Liston”, which is located at the central square of the island. Every year a large crowd of tourists and locals is gathered to view this very eccentric spectacle.
The picturesque castle town of Monemvasia carries the aroma of another era, with its impressive Byzantine architecture and special Easter rituals that are revived every year.
The town’s famous Epitaph parade is different from other places around Greece, as it takes place all throughout the city’s cobbled alleys and medieval-style buildings. The traditional chants and psalms echo across Monemvasia’s rocky walls, while locals and visitors follow the parade holding their lit-up white candles. During the night-time, even the blooming bougainvilleas and the moon harmoniously playing with the sea, seem to participate in this big Easter event.
The historic town of Leonidio in the prefecture of Arcadia, is an excellent choice for those who wish to experience an authentic and traditional kind of Easter. In addition to the town’s beauty, with its mountainous landscape in front of the sea, Leonidio is famous for its special customs on the day of the Anastasi.
Every year, the town’s residents build hundreds of colourful balloon-lanterns, which they “liberate” after the Anastasi, as the night sky is filled with small red and yellow lights that look like stars.
The lively energy of Patmos and its residents, the imposing Monastery at the highest hill of the island, and the century-old rituals the customs are only a few of the reasons why “the island of the Apocalypse” is one of the best places to spend Easter. White mansions covered in flowers, narrow alleys, cobbled courtyards, traditional taverns and modern shops, create the characteristic landscape of the Dodecanese.
The place where the John the Evangelist wrote the Book of Revelation, receives a large number of visitors every Easter, including many artists and scholars, who are inspired by the island’s rich history and mysteries.
The Easter customs at Chios are so “explosive” that every year, they make the news around the world, as the island’s residents try to make their traditional rocket-shooters bigger and better each time.
The island where the great Homer was born, is not only famous for its delicious mastiha, but also for the fireworks and rockets that are shoot every year, right after the Anastasi. The famous rocket warfare is so intense that the sky looks like it is on fire and the entire island is shaking.
The versatile Chios in the northeast side of the Aegean, also has numerous crystal-clear beaches and dozens of beautiful villages that will keep every visitor’s interest undiminished.
The stunning island of Syros, with its one side filled with neoclassical buildings, and the other with medieval architecture, creates the perfect opportunity for a short escape from the city.
What is very special about Easter in Syros is that the Orthodox and Catholic communities of the island – the largest Catholic community in Greece with a percentage of about 40% of the Syrians – regardless of when the Catholic Easter happens every year, they both celebrate these holy days together. An all-night coexistence of religious festivities and celebrations make the island an unforgettable Easter destination.
The usually “quiet” Andros, famous for its bright blue beaches, the island aura, the traditional customs and local recipes, becomes very “explosive” during Easter time.
Similar to Chios, the old cast iron cannons of the city – known as “maskoula” – shoot fireworks to and from every direction, as locals and visitors merge into one and celebrate with traditional music and dances.
No Easter travel list would be complete without the spooky and majestic Meteora.
For centuries now, the giant stone complex of the more than 800 rocks of Meteora has been, not only a landscape of unparalleled natural beauty, but also one of the most important monuments of the Orthodox Church. The vastness of nature and spirituality converse in a unique way, revealing their greatness to the thousands of visitors, who flock the town of Kalampaka from every corner of the earth.
Out of the 30 monasteries – most of which were founded in the 14th century – that are located on top of the gigantic rocks, only six are in operation today, and welcome visitors, who wish to experience a fairytale-like kind of Easter.
All photos from Travel Style, except where noted differently.