is the word used to describe Easter in the Orthodox calendar and is being celebrated here this week, with Easter Sunday falling on Sunday 1st May.
The date you celebrate Easter on depends entirely on the calendar your religious affiliation follows. Western churches use the Gregorian calendar, which is the standard calendar for much of the world. However, Orthodox churches follow the older, Julian calendar.
Holy week is all about tradition and ritual. It is a beautiful celebration that commences the Saturday before Palm Sunday, known as the Saturday of Lazarus.
People gather in church every evening throughout Holy Week, especially on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and on Holy Saturday, the night of the Resurrection.
Numerous mass’ and processions will take place this week on the island, Good Friday is a day of mourning. The icon of Christ is taken off the cross, wrapped in linen and put in the Bier (Epitafios) symbolizing the tomb of Christ. Boats will be leaving from Gaios square to the island of Panagia on Friday around 4pm.
Late in the evening the Bier is carried through each village, flowers are scattered in it’s path and followers carry candles, it is very moving experience.
The resurrection Mass takes place an hour before mid night on Saturday evening, each village on the island has a mass and people gather with an unlit candle. The Papas will leave the alter with a candle lit from the Holy Light, this is then distributed amongst everyone. On the stroke of mid night the Papas with announce Christos Anesti, Christ has risen and fireworks and fire-crakers are let off to mark the celebration.
Those that return home with their candle still alight use the smoke to mark a cross above their door that will ward off the evil spirit for the year ahead.
Sunday is a family day of celebrations, traditionally lamb and kokoretsi is eaten along with the red eggs.
Wishing you all Kalo Pascha
Holy Thursday is the day for dyeing eggs red. The egg, is a symbol of life, while red is the color of life.
In the evening, after the reading of the 12 Gospel, the girls undertake the decoration of the Bier of Christ (epitaphios) with garlands of flowers, so that in the morning of Good Friday it is ready to receive the image of the body of Christ when He is taken down from the Cross. Flowers of various colours are used but in Crete it is common to use the flowers of the lemon tree.