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Living - Easter in Crete
Easter in Crete & Greece
Greek Easter in Crete is celebrated with many local customs and traditions.
Easter ('Paska') is the most important holiday in Greece, and in the Greek Orthodox Church.
Greek Orthodox Easter usually falls one to five weeks after the western (Protestant, Catholic) Easter, while
approximately once every four years it falls on the same date.
In 2017 Greek Easter falls on Sunday 16th April 2017, the same date as western Easter.
Clean Monday APOKRIES (Kathara Deftera) is a bank holiday and marks the start of Lent and 49 days of fasting,
although nowadays few people strictly fast for the whole of Lent. Easter fasting excludes meat, fish (but not seafood),
eggs, oil and dairy products from the diet.
Holy Week (Megali Evdomada) starts Monday 10 April 2017
The week leading up to Easter is known as Holy Week (Megali Evdomada) and this is when most people take their
Church services are held throughout Holy Week.
Many tavernas close during this week, and the ones that stay open have mostly seafood and vegetable dishes on
The women dye eggs red (symbolising the blood of Christ) and bake Easter biscuits 'koulourakia' and kalitsounia
(cheese pies), to be eaten after Easter Saturday when the fast ends.
Good Friday (Megali Paraskevi) 14 April 2017
Good Friday is a day of mourning and churches usually ring out the death toll throughout the morning - a steady toll
of one ring of the bell. The evening church service starts at 7pm and after the service, at around 8.30pm, there is a
subdued procession through the streets carrying the epitaph, or coffin, with the congregation following behind,
usually all dressed in black.
Town shops are normally open 11am-3pm and supermarkets 8am-5pm on
Good Friday, and many tavernas remain closed today.
Easter Saturday (Megalo Sabbato) 15 April 2017
In Crete village children spend the day preparing a bonfire and an effigy of Judas outside the church to burn after
the midnight service.
The Anastasi, the Resurrection, takes place at midnight and is the culmination of Holy Week. Churches across
Greece are packed from 11pm onwards for the service and the lighting of the Holy Flame at midnight.
Many tavernas are open after the midnight service. The 40-day fast ends at midnight today so meat is back on the
menu and it's becoming very popular to celebrate the Anastasi and the start of Easter at a taverna or 'kentro' with
Town shops close at around 3pm and supermarkets around 5pm today.
Easter Sunday (Kyriaki tou Paska) 16 April 2017
Easter Sunday tradition is the roasting of lamb outside on a spit; family and friends usually get together for a big
party with plenty of food, wine, music, and dancing.
If friends or neighbours are hosting an Easter party outside you'll likely be hailed for a celebratory drink and 'meze'
with them if you happen to pass by their house - the more the merrier! If you are formally invited beforehand it is not
expected that you take anything with you, but taking along 'glyka' - cakes or biscuits - will always be appreciated.
Shops and supermarkets are closed today.
Museums and archaeological sites closed.
Tavernas are usually open.
Easter Monday 17 April 2017
Shops and supermarkets remain closed. Most museums closed, main sites
Knossos, Phaistos - open.
Full details of opening hours in Crete for Easter can be found here. Kali Anastasi!