Greek Orthodox Easter is a flower-covered celebration featuring richly decorated churches and mouthwatering Easter dishes. It is a unique pageant which culminates in a candle-lit procession to the church amid cries of ‘Christo Anesti’ (‘Christ has risen’) and the perfect way to kick-off the summer season in Crete!
Good Friday (Megali Paraskevi) is traditionally a day of mourning with churches ringing out the death toll throughout the day. An evening church service is followed by a sombre procession through the streets, with local residents carrying decorated epitaphs and followed by crowds dressed only in black.
Easter Saturday (Megalo Sabbato) culminates in a particularly unique activity — the burning of an effigy of Judas! A midnight church service follows, with the Resurrection taking place as the clock strikes 12. The Holy Flame is lit and passed around the congregation, which often spills out onto the street. Luckily for hungry church-goers, many tavernas are open after the midnight service — particularly exciting as Lent is now over and meat is back on the menu!
Easter Sunday (Kyriaki Tou Paska) is devoted to delicious food and good company. A feast of succulent lamb spit-roasted over an open fire is usually washed down with jugs of local wine, whilst family, friends and neighbours gather for a big party filled with music and dancing.
Celebrate Greek Easter from the comfort of your own home with this simple recipe for traditional tsoureki bread:
- Sift 8 cups all-purpose flour into a large bowl with 1/2 tsp salt. In a separate pan, dissolve 1/4 ounce of dry yeast in 1.5 ups of warm milk, and slowly add half a cup of the flour mixture plus 1 tbsp sugar to the yeast-y milk. Cover tightly and set aside until it becomes foamy (about 6 minutes).
- In another large saucepan, melt 1 + 2/3 cups of unsalted butter and add 1 + 2/3 cups of sugar, 2 tbsp orange zest, 1 tbsp lemon zest and 1 tbsp mahlab ( dried apricot kernels, fennel seeds or cardamom can all be substituted for mahlab). Remove from the heat and stir in 5 lightly beaten eggs. Leave to cool.
- Pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl and add the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Slowly add the flour mixture until a smooth, wet dough forms. Cover and allow to rise for about 2 hours in a warm place.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured counter and knead lightly. Separate into 3 equal parts and shape each into long cords. Braid these together and leave to rise for a further hour.
- Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds before baking for 1 hour (until nicely browned).
Minos Palace hotel & suites invites guests to enjoy Easter surrounded by 360 degree sea views, experiencing Crete at its most beautiful — in full bloom! Offering comfort and relaxation for adults only, the hotel provides minimalist interiors with an emphasis on luxury and tranquility. Last, but not least, savour a mesmerising journey through the flavours of Greek Easter, ensuring that this holiday will be captured in your memory forever. Check our Easter 2019 offers here and enjoy Easter on Crete, particularly the festivities of Agios Nikolaos. Locals head to Lake Voulismeni on the Saturday night, where a traditional Orthodox service is held at the church of St. George.