Easter in Paros: Tradition in a cosmopolitan atmosphere

Paros easter

Travel to cosmopolitan Paros and its picturesque villages, which have an immersive atmosphere and traditional customs during Easter.

The islands are a favourite destination for Easter. They have special customs amid beautiful landscapes and, of course, the sea.

In Paros, tradition meets a cosmopolitan atmosphere. You can attend services in monasteries and small chapels, then completely change the scene and mood and enjoy food at an award-winning restaurant and a drink in a bar with contemporary design.

Everything has its place in Paros with the same simplicity.

Naousa/Photo: Nikos Kokkas Paros
Naousa/Photo: Nikos Kokkas

During Holy Week, eggs are dyed, tsourekia are kneaded, and, of course, cheese pies and local Easter sweets are made.

Although Paros is one of the islands that attracts many visitors in the summer months, it has managed to preserve its customs and religious identity. The most interesting is the picturesque village of Marpissa, which celebrates Easter with real religious devotion.

On Holy Thursday, after the service, the women of the village remain in the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour to decorate the Epitaphios - apart from the flowers they buy, they also decorate it with flowers they bring from their gardens, such as lilies and violets.

On Good Friday, the village performs a special custom that has existed for almost 100 years. During the procession of the Epitaphios, which is accompanied by a choir, groups represent the Passion of Christ at various points along the route. The performances, in fact, take place in an extremely moving atmosphere and with the participation of more than 100 volunteers.

This custom was started in 1930 by the teacher Vasileia Kafourou Asonitis so that schoolchildren could participate in Easter celebrations. At that time, the neighbouring villages of Prodromos and Marmara did not have their own schools, so the children attended classes in Marpissa. They experienced this custom in Marpissa, and after 1950, they transferred it to their own villages.

Apart from the above villages, a similar custom occurs in Aspro Chorio and Lefkes, although Marpissa is the most famous.

Lefkes/Photo: Nikos Kokkas
Lefkes/Photo: Nikos Kokkas

Also, on Good Friday, families have "merasmata," i.e., fasting sweets or figs to forgive the souls of their dead relatives.

Again, in Marpissa, on Holy Saturday, after the service, the priest from the gate throws plants of the Parian countryside, such as oregano, laurel, and sage, which the faithful gather eagerly.

Marpissa/Photo: Nikos Kokkas
Marpissa/Photo: Nikos Kokkas

On the night of the Resurrection, which takes place in a wonderfully religious atmosphere, fireworks create an impressive display in the sky. The traditional after-church food is patsa, magiritsa, and Easter eggs.

In Marpissa, a wonderful labyrinth of alleys and churches awaits you/Photo: Nikos Kokkas
In Marpissa, a wonderful labyrinth of alleys and churches awaits you/Photo: Nikos Kokkas.

The village's customs continue on Easter Sunday. A solemn litany occurs in the morning, around 11:30. The procession passes by the mills, where the "burning of Judas" takes place. The procession continues to the church, where small children dressed as angels reenact the Resurrection in the forecourt.

As soon as the service is over, people head to the village stadium, where, at about 1:30 p.m., there is a big feast. This feast was established in the mid-70s and is attended by locals and visitors alike. The wine flows abundantly, and the dishes include roast lamb and Easter eggs, all for free.

A swing is also set up. The girls go one by one and sit and sing while the boys rock them on the swing. It was a way for the young men and women of the island to get to know each other and for matches and courtships to begin.

Parikia/Photo: Nikos Kokkas
Parikia/Photo: Nikos Kokkas

The parishes in Parikia and Naousa meet at the port and make a joint march for the procession of the Epitaphios on Good Friday.

In Naousa, on Easter Sunday, in the afternoon during the procession of the icon, the two parishes of the Dormition of the Virgin and Pantanassa pass through the alleys of the  settlement, then through the port and end up in the central square, where a barrage of firecrackers and flares are let off.

Holy Shrine of the Virgin Mary Ekatontapyliani
Holy Shrine of the Virgin Mary Ekatontapyliani/Photo: Nikos Kokkas

The evening of the Resurrection is cosmopolitan in Parikia and Naousa. On Easter Sunday, houses, tavernas, and restaurants serve traditional dishes. Naousa is particularly famous for its very festive Easter Sunday atmosphere.

Voula Akrivaki is a columnist for Travel. Translated by Paul Antonopoulos

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