A Big Fat Greeky Easter

Well, hello there blogosphere! While A Girl I Know is still off sunning herself I have been given the honour of being a guest blogger. This comes before even getting my own blog sorted. I was shocked to see the other day that I set up my blog in SEPTEMBER 2010 and STILL haven't posted anything. Not one word. I think my problem has been where to start. So thanks, A Girl I Know, for the kick up the κώλος / kollos (bum) that I needed!

It's bloggin' time !

'Happy Easter
Before moving to Corfu, Greece, nearly two years ago, I was told about Easter and how big a celebration it is here in the orthodox church. Bigger than Christmas. So I was looking forward to experiencing a Greeky Easter but my first one last year was spent working (boo). I got a little snippet of easter then as I was waitressing in a hotel restaurant where everybody else was celebrating but I wanted to be on the other side with them!

This year was different. I was supposed to be working again but unfortunately there weren't enough bookings taken for the hotel to open. More greeks were choosing to stay closer to home this year in times of financial crisis. Even so, this didn't dampen my spirits of wanting to get fully involved in the traditions - Greek-style!

The lead up to Easter starts 48 days before on 'Kathara deftera' (= Clean Monday). This marks the beginning of Lent when a lot of greeks take part in fasting. This is a holiday (one of the things I like about Greece- lots of holidays!) and it is usually spent with family, eating picnics of fasting food and flying kites (you can usually bet this day is going to be windy - I love non-British predictable weather!). My english mother-in-law (married to a greek & living here too) told me one year she went on one of these picnics taking with her a whole roast chicken. She thought it was her cooking when nobody touched it all day!

Next year I think I will take part in the fasting just for experimental purposes but probably just in the last week of easter. Meat, butter, eggs and cheese are all FORBIDDEN (great word) which would probably drive me round the bend for 48 days. While out and about, you can see menu boards outside of Tavernas showing special fasting dishes and even 'Goody's', the greek equivalent of McDonalds, has their alternative to burgers for this period.
Calamari burger? No? How about a Vegetable club sandwich? Still no? Maccy D's it is then. The run up to Easter weekend is called 'Megali evthomatha' which literally means 'Big week', otherwise known as holy week. People of the orthodox church attend services all week and then on Palm Sunday & Easter Sunday there is a parade with the mummified body (yes, mummified) of Corfu's patron saint, Saint Spyridon (why every other male in Corfu is named Spiros).
Being a musical island, there are also parades with the philharmonic band who play more sombre tones at this time.

On holy Friday, the lights at Liston in corfu Town, the place to be seen drinking coffee, switch to purple until the morning after.
Easter lights !
Non-Easter lights at Liston

On Easter Saturday, coinciding with the Resurrection of Christ, is the 'throwing of the pots.' I was looking forward to seeing this as it is a tradition unique to Corfu. It all starts at 11am when people throw large terracotta pots from their balconies onto the street below (great for anger management me-thinks) with the belief that bad spirits in the house will be thrown out with them. We went to watch this in Corfu town where different TV channels were filming and you could buy your own small pot to smash. I couldn't help but think this would be shut down in the UK for health and safety reasons ! I was shocked to see after that people had left their cars parked just a few metres away in the danger zone! It was a great and different event to see and was all over in a flash. I came away with a piece of pot for good luck (not won the lotto yet though) and an ache-y neck from craning to see them all.

My piece !


Corfu town on E
Just before midnight on Saturday we were back in Corfu town where people were slowly pouring out of the churches to gather in the park centre for the fireworks. Before this, people light each others' candles while saying "Hristos Anesti" (christ is risen) with the reply being "Alithos Anesti" (truly he is risen). The sight of all these lit candles would've been nice, but on this night it was particularly windy, and after three failed attempts at keeping our candles lit, we gave up!

 By the way, these decorated candles (lambathes) are big business, we went shopping for them especially with my boyfriend telling me that people compete to have the nicest looking one. My first thought was that it's 'just a candle' but then I suddenly got sucked into the world of lambathes and spent half an hour choosing the right one. We were happy with our 'His' n' 'Hers' pink and blue candles in the end! They even sell Barbies and Action Men with a lambatha in as a gift for godparents to buy their godchildren. I must admit I got lambatha envy when I saw one little girls barbie-candle!

Getting one of these next year.

At midnight the fast is broken and people may go and eat then with a 'Magiritsa' soup which is made from lamb offal. I was up for trying this until I caught a whiff of it which brought me back to my senses! I did try a fried dish of chicken liver, heart and god knows what else. This is the closest I've come to a bushtucker trail and I liked the liver but as soon as I saw the tubes on the heart, I had to say "I'm a Brit, get me out of here!"

Easter Sunday is a big family day spent eating lamb, usually roasted whole on a spit ( I try to picture myself carrying a whole lamb under my arm out of ASDA like you get it from supermarkets here), drinking and dancing (my kind of celebrating). It is not unusual for there to be warnings on TV, before Easter, telling people not to eat too much and even then, some still end up in hospital from over-eating (I love food, but this is taking it to a whoooole new level!).

That underneath the lamb is 'Kokoretsi' which is usually served as a starter. It is made by skewering the liver, spleen and heart of the lamb and then wrapping around that with layers of thin fatty membrane from lamb intestines, finishing with a pretty bow (OK, not the last bit). I can only guess that after all the fasting, they are so hungry they just can't wait to devour ALL of the animal.
Red-dyed eggs are also eaten now. People crack each others egg using the "hristos anesti" and "Alithos Anesti" greetings. You can find these in Easter bread too.
My dyed eggs !

Well, that was my Easter 2012! Maybe I'll work up to trying the Magiritsa soup next year! 

So how did your Easter differ? Have you been to Greece over Easter before or experienced Easter in another country?

Naomi @
My Big Fat Greek Adventure 


  1. Anonymous19/5/12 16:19

    Wow, what a nice informative guest post! I've always spent Easter in Poland, so it's especially interesting for me to see what it's like in Greece. I've visited Greece only once in my life so far so I can't say I know much about the country :)

    1. Oh wow, thanks! This is my first ever post so that means a lot!
      Do you do anything special at Easter in Poland?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Naomi! What an awesome post! I had no idea Easter was celebrated like that in Greece. I think I may have to come an visit you next year. Love the photos and yes you sooooo have to get a barbie candle next year or a Jem one! Haha. Not so sure about the Magiritsa soup though love! I had trouble keeping my lunch down after reading that lol. Great post Naomi. xx

    1. Thankyou my lil chuff, glad you're happy with it!

      Hope you had a fab hol, looks like it from photos!!

      I would LOVE you to come at easter, we can get matching barbie candles lol. Easter's in early May next year too so should be a bit warmer!

      Lotsa love xxx


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