Greek Orthodox Easter 2024 dates, differences and how it's celebrated

Greek Orthodox Easter 2024

Greek Easter is the most important religious and cultural celebration in Greece. In 2024, Greek Easter is celebrated on the 5th of May. Here are some of the unique Greek Orthodox Easter traditions and customs.

Most Christians will be following the Easter dates in the Gregorian calendar, which was introduced in 1582. But the Eastern Orthodox Church still bases its Easter dates on the previous Julian calendar, which had been in effect since 45 BC.

As a result, Greek Easter or Orthodox Easter can vary from the main Easter celebrations in the Western world. In some years, both are on the same date, as in 2017. In other years, they aren't. In 2021, they were four weeks apart, although the two festivities can be separated by as much as five weeks, so it's not the biggest gap that could potentially happen.

When is Easter 2024 in Greece?

Greek Orthodox Easter 2024 is on 5 May, a few weeks after Catholic Easter 2024 and Protestant Easter 2024. 

If you are an early planner, here is a table with Easter dates for the current decade. Note that, in some years, Orthodox and Catholic / Protestant Easter fall on the same dates. This is the case for Easter 2025, which falls on 20 April.

Greek Orthodox Easter next decade

Always remember that Holy Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays for some people, and some services are affected.

Archaeological sites and museums have shorter opening hours on Holy Friday and Saturday and are closed on Easter Day. These may vary from year to year, so please check the official website of each attraction you are planning to visit.

Stores are usually open from 13:00 to 19:00 on Good Friday, 9:00 to 18:00 pm on Good Saturday, and remain closed on Sunday.

Despite being commonly called Greek Easter, this tradition is celebrated in other places apart from Greece. Other countries that officially observe Orthodox Easter include Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Serbia, Moldova, North Macedonia, Cyprus, Montenegro, Georgia, Belarus and Russia.

Greece Easter Traditions

There are many Easter traditions in Greece. Some of them are related to church services. There are several liturgies throughout Lent, the seven-week period before Easter, and during the Holy Week. As an example, the Unction takes place on Holy Wednesday.

Other Easter traditions have to do with food. During Lent, many foods are not allowed. On Holy Saturday and Easter Day, Greeks prepare a few special dishes.

These traditions are a huge part of the Greek culture. Many Greeks follow them – even people who are non-religious. Here is what to expect if you visit Greece in Easter.

Fasting during Lent

The seven-week period before Easter is called Lent, known in Greek as Sarakosti. During that time, some Orthodox Christians go on a special fast, which we call nistia, in order to cleanse themselves in preparation for Easter.

Many people only fast on the Holy Week. This is the last week of Lent, between Palm Sunday and Holy Saturday. In Greek, we call it Megali Evdomada, which literally translates to Grand Week.

Greek fasting is similar to a vegan diet, with the addition of seafood, and sometimes excluding olive oil and wine. During Lent, many restaurants serve special dishes, which we call nistisima.

Lent begins on Clean Monday, also known as Ash Monday. Greeks celebrate this public holiday with feasts of Lent foods and flying kites. Certain days, like the Greek Independence / Annunciation Day, call for the consumption of fish.

In fact, according to the Greek Orthodox religion, people are supposed to give up all pleasures of the flesh during Lent.

Is Greek Easter the same as Orthodox Easter?

People use the terms Greek Easter, Orthodox Easter and Greek Orthodox Easter interchangeably. In Greek, this religious day is known as Agio Pascha, which means Holy Easter.

What is the significance of Easter in Greece?

Easter is the most important religious celebration in Greece. It commemorates Jesus Christ’s agony, death and resurrection. As it’s always in spring, it is also a symbol of rebirth and renewal.

Why is Easter a different date in Greece?

Orthodox churches around Europe follow the Julian calendar, which was launched in 45 BC. The Protestant and Catholic churches follow the Gregorian calendar, which replaced the Julian calendar in 1582.

What do Greeks eat on Greek Easter?

Greeks prepare special dishes for Easter Day. Among others, you will find grilled lamb or goat on the spit and hard-boiled eggs that have been dyed red. There are other meat-based recipes, such as kokoretsi and goat intestines wrapped around offal.

Why do Greek Orthodox crack eggs at Easter?

On Easter Sunday, Greeks play a traditional game of cracking red-dyed eggs. The colour red symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ, and the cracking of the shell symbolizes his breakthrough resurrection from the dead.

What is the Holy Light / Holy Fire?

On the eve of Orthodox Easter, a miraculous light is said to glow from what is widely believed to be the Tomb of Christ. This is called the Holy Light in Greek and is also known as Holy Fire. This light comes all the way from Jerusalem to Greece and is used to light up the Easter candles after midnight, which is symbolic of Christ’s resurrection.

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