I was raised to be Greek Orthodox and often get questions as to why Greek Easter sometimes falls on a different day than Western, Catholic Easter. Even though they both fall on the same day this year, here are some facts and things to know about this holiday.
Greek Easter sometimes falls on a different date because we follow the Julian Calendar while Westerners follow the Gregorian Calendar. Greek Easter always falls after Jewish Passover because Christ was crucified and resurrected after he celebrated Passover in Jerusalem.
Traditional Greek Easter foods
- Lamb, lamb and more lamb — “Lamb of God” signifies Christ and that’s why eating it is a pretty big deal for Greeks. When I celebrated Easter in Greece on Santorini, the restaurant roasted lambs over a fire (see photo above.) It’s the best way to eat it!
- Magiritsa — This is a traditional Greek Easter soup. If you’ve ever had Avgolemono, or lemon soup, they’re very similar. The difference? The meat in magiritsa is actually “gizzards,” aka the organs of the lamb. Eeeeek, sounds gross, but it’s actually really good.
- Red Easter eggs — This is one of the biggest traditions for Greeks. We dye our eggs red because it symbolizes the blood Christ shed on the cross.
- Tsoureki — This is the traditional sweet bread we make and absolutely love.
Easter in Greece
Easter in Greece is incredible. While Santorini is a pretty huge island, the people in each individual town come together to make it seem like everyone is family. Everything was lit up with candles and it was simply beautiful (see photos). The town glowed like something in a movie.
It’s a really big tradition in Greece to decorate candles called labathas. They’re usually gifts given to children by parents or God parents. It’s not that big of a thing in America, but it’s a huge deal in Greece.
If you’re around Greeks at all on Easter, you might hear them say “Christos Anesti,” which means “Christ is Risen.” That’s followed up by “Alithos Anesti,” which means “truly, He is risen.” If you see a Greek on Sunday, don’t hesitate to say it, they’ll be impressed!
Check out our Pinterest board for lamb, magiritsa, and other Greek food recipes.
Do you celebrate Greek Easter? Share your traditions below!