If you have Greek friends in your social circle, you know that this is the biggest party of the year for them.
For the Greek Orthodox Church, it is important to commemorate the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. After weeks of careful fasting and prayer, Orthodox people are eager to break the fast and eat foods they have been deprived of. Many traditions have developed around this, and they continue to this day.
The traditional dish eaten at the first full meal is magaritsa , which is a soup made from the organs of the lamb that will be prepared for the main feast.
If you've been to a Greek Easter dinner, you may have noticed that all the eggs are dyed red and there aren't any pastel colored eggs at the table. This is because the egg came to symbolize the tomb of Christ, which was stained with his blood.
Roast lamb is the traditional meat of choice on the Greek Passover table. It is normally seasoned and prepared on a spit, or souvla.
In areas of Greece where lamb is not readily available, goat may be eaten. According to the apostle John, Jesus is the Lamb of God. He died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Eating lamb honors that.
Another delicacy that is present at the Greek Easter table is tsoureki , the traditional sweet bread. You'll recognize this bread because it will likely have a baked red Easter egg right in the center. This bread contains several ingredients that were banned during Great Lent such as eggs, butter and sugar. Some families go even further and use the traditional tsoureki dough to make sweet buns.
As you will have understood, for all of us Orthodox, Easter is a VERY STRONG social gathering, which we will each experience in our homes this year.
Next year, this period will be even more aware and rejuvenating!
Preparation for Easter begins at the start of Great Lent . Orthodox Christians fast and pray regularly during the forty days of Lent and during Holy Week. For many Greeks, the religious service that takes place on the evening of Holy Saturday is the most important.
Christ is risen! This phrase resounds every year in the streets and at every meeting, for several days… " Christos Anesti "! This phrase is spoken for the first time after midnight on Easter Day. The answer is: "Verily he is" In Greek, it translates to " Allithios Anesti ".
Just before midnight, the church goes completely dark. After midnight it lights up by candlelight as people light their neighbors' candles and start singing "Christos Anesti".
The traditional hymn is also sung. Translated, it means “ Christ rose from the dead .” By his death he trampled on death. For those in the grave he gave eternal life. ”This hymn is sung for several weeks after Easter during services from the church.