This translates to “Happy resurrection!” in English. Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians will wish this to each other to essentially say “have a good celebration” on Easter Sunday. Easter, or “Pascha” in Greek, is one of the greatest celebrations by the Orthodox Church, during which we honor all sorts of Greek customs and religious ceremonies. To get you excited for breaking bread with Acropolis for Easter, we thought we’d share a couple of our favorite Greek Orthodox traditions!
A Wholly Holy Week
The Greek Orthodox Holy Week extends from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday and marks the last week of Lent. During Lent, many Greek Orthodox believers will abstain from meat and other animal-derived products. Not everyone follows Lent strictly, or even at all, for the whole duration. Some only do so during Holy Week.
Chances are you’ve heard of Good Friday, but on the night of Holy Saturday we attend church holding our Greek Easter candles. The votive candles are given to the kids as a gift by their godmothers and godfathers. The highlight of the night is around midnight when the priest comes out of the chancel and lights each of the candles with holy fire.
At the end of the Easter service the priest then gives red Easter eggs to the congregation, who each crack them by tapping them against the egg of a fellow worshiper. As they do this, they exclaim, “Kristos Anesti! (Christ is Risen!)” and receive a response of, “Alithos Anesti! (Truly He is Risen!)” The red color of the egg signifies the blood of Christ shed on the cross. The shell of the egg signifies His three-day entombment, and its breaking is His resurrection.
The joy behind Easter Sunday’s meal is wholeheartedly enhanced by it being the family’s first meat-based meal after Lent. Greek Orthodox Christians share bread at Easter dinners and serve lamb as the entree (both are in remembrance of Christ). Greeks love going out with friends, being independent, and traveling abroad… but on Easter, almost everyone in Greece visits their grandparents. During this special time brothers and sisters, cousins, parents, and grandparents gather to grill lamb and break bread. So feast with us at Acropolis during this wonderful, Holy week and feel free to exclaim “Kristos Anesti!” when you greet us, for He is truly risen indeed!