Celebrate the Ultimate Victory of Life in Athens
“Christos anesti”! Christ has risen. “Alithos anesti”. Indeed He has risen. These are the words that we Greeks say at the culmination of the Holy Saturday Mass. It is a few minutes before midnight. The land is dark. The people wait. Time stands still. And then life begins again. The priest brings out the Holy Light and proclaims the Resurrection of Christ. He then distributes the flame to everyone within the church and a chain of light slowly spreads to every man, woman, and child as everyone embraces each other with a kiss. The kiss of life, the kiss of joy. Christ has risen. The story of life. A journey of suffering, penance, patience, humility that ends with light and enduring faith. This is what Easter symbolizes for millions of Orthodox Greeks around the world.
Orthodox Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon of the spring equinox and is what we call a “movable holiday” because it does not fall on the same date every year. This year, Greek Easter falls on Sunday, April 8, 2018. The word “Pascha”, meaning Easter in Greek, stems from the Jewish “Pasah” which means “Passover”. The preparations for the celebration of the Resurrection start on Holy Thursday.
Easter, A Unique and Mystifying Greek Experience
The villages and islands of Greece are well known for their Easter traditions and festivities. Spending Easter in Athens, however, can also be a very spiritual and meaningful experience. Some of the most beautiful churches of Greece are located in Athens, each with its own rich history and cultural significance.
Good Friday is a solemn day and most stores close at midday so that the pious can prepare for the evening Epitaphios procession. Every church in Greece has begun decorating the canopy of the Epitaph from the night before with fresh flowers. The church smells of spring and incense and the funerary bell begins to toll. The streets of Athens wind down and the sky always seems to reflect the mood of the day in somber tones of gray. Make your way to the church of Agia Irini, and listen to soul-stirring hymns sung by a Byzantine choir. The epitaph is brought out of the church usually around 9 pm and you can choose to follow the candlelit procession or make your way to Syntagma Square where all the epitaph processions from the surrounding churches meet. This is definitely one of the most beautiful Easter traditions of Athens.
Holy Saturday has a completely different feel to it. The resurrection of Christ is close, a time for rebirth and hope for mankind and the world. The Easter eggs have been dyed bright red, symbolizing the sacrifice of Christ, and the tsoureki, the traditional sweet, brioche-style bread served with the Easter meal, has been baked. Homes across the nation are preparing for the magiritsa soup, made of lamb innards and an egg and lemon juice broth called avgolemono that will be served after the midnight procession of the resurrection.
The churched of Agia Aikaterini and Agios Nikolaos in Plaka are both great choices to partake in Holy Saturday mass. The mass begins at around 9 pm and culminates with the joyous resurrection of Christ, accompanied by light and fireworks.
Staying at the Philippos Hotel gives you the great advantage of being at the pulsating center of Holy Week traditional events in Athens. Easter is celebrated in such a unique and mystifying way in Greece, and since the Philippos Hotel is only minutes away from all of the churches mentioned in this post, you can easily discover this one-of-a-kind experience for yourself.
We’re Full of Surprises
At the Philippos Hotel we want you to experience, enjoy, and ultimately, to return home a little different than before. Easter has arrived at the Philippos Hotel with the majesty of spring and we offer it to you. At breakfast make sure you taste our freshly baked tsoureki, homemade Easter cookies and dyed Easter eggs.
At the ground floor of Herodion Hotel (our sister property), the Atrium Greek Bistrot will be serving traditional magiritsa soup on Holy Saturday and a special holiday menu will be available on Easter Sunday featuring roasted lamb with all the trimmings. Check out our Easter MENU
Christ has risen, and you were there to witness it in one of the most magnificent cities in the world and in a most magical way. Christos Anesti!