Holy Saturday - Το Μεγάλο ΣάββατοAfter the long night of Good Friday everybody wakes up from the joyful sound of the bells. Holy Saturday has arrived. Jesus has risen from the dead. Everyone will start preparing for the big celebration of Easter Sunday. The housewives are preparing all kinds of delicious pies, cookies and sweets while the men will go to buy the traditional lamb. You can see the joy in the faces of everyone.
Before midnight everyone is inside and out of the churches holding white candles, a symbol of happiness. In the church, the service is taking place almost in darkness. They are waiting for the priest to announce that Christ has risen. Then light from a church candle is taken and is given to others to light their candles. The light represents Christ. He is the light that never burns out... While they share the Holy Light the priests are singing "Δεύτε, λάβετε φως..." that means "Come, receive the Light" while some people say: "Christ has risen (Χριστός Ανέστη)", and others answer: "truly He has risen (Αληθώς Ανέστη)".
Soon you see that everybody has their candles lit. Outside, along with the joyful sound of the bells, the happy people start to light fireworks. When the light sharing ceremony is over some are staying in the church until the end of the service, while others walk home with the lighted candle. With the smoke from the fire of their candle they make a cross on the top frame of the front door and then they light up the home candle. Then they eat the traditional Magiritsa (μαγειρίτσα = soup made with the intestine of the lamb) and crack and eat the red eggs.
Easter Sunday - Η Κυριακή του ΠάσχαEarly in the morning they must get up and prepare the spit for the lamb and the kokoretsi (Κοκορέτσι = livers, hearts, spleens from the lamb passed through a skewer and wrapped with lamb intestines). In some places they cook the lamb in the oven. Many times you see gathering of neighbors, cooking and eating together. After all, this is the celebration of love. That's the reason that Christ was crucified, to show His love for us.
At this feast, everyone is welcome. Even strangers that pass by, sit and have some food.
After a long day of eating, drinking and of course dancing, it's time for this big celebration to come to an end. Almost fifty days of fasting is over and the Greeks can not wait until Easter arrives again...
NotesMonday after Easter Sunday, we celebrate Saint George (Άγιος Γεώργιος) if the regular day of the 23rd of April, happens to fall during Holy Week.
Easter is also called "Λαμπρή (lab-RI)". The word "Λαμπρή" comes from the adjective "λαμπρός, -ή, -ό" which means "bright". This name for Easter, shows the importance of this celebration to Greeks.