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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 30 April 2016
12 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 30 APRIL 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Greek Life author Eugenia Pantahos guides us through Greek Easter traditions THEODORA MAIOS A s Greek Orthodox Easter approaches, families are following the rituals of fasting and spiritual growth as well as preparing for the biggest celebration of Christianity - Jesus Christ's resurrection. In other words, ΠΑΣΧΑ. During Holy Week, starting from Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday, the Greek Orthodox Church has services each day, morning and night. According to second generation Greek author Eugenia Pantahos, Easter is about renewal and rebirth. "In Greece, Easter falls in the spring, perfectly demonstrating these themes of renewal and rebirth," says Eugenia in her book Greek Life, in which, throughout the yearly calendar, she honours the culture and traditions of Greece, combining them with traditional home-made Greek recipes. EASTER SATURDAY On Easter Saturday, at the stroke of midnight, the priest emerges from the altar with a lit candle and proceeds to light the candles of the eager congregation members who wait on the altar step to receive the first 'holy' light. According to tradition, the first to receive the light will encounter good luck for the rest of the year. The light gets passed on until all the candles in the church are lit, illuminating the room with a magnificent glow, which represents the New Light. The church bells toll, giving the signal to the church attendees, the priest and chanters to chant 'Christos Anesti' together three times. The hymn is chanted to celebrate the moment of Christ's resurrection and it is considered to be one of the most moving and emotional hymns in the Greek Orthodox religion. From Easter Saturday onwards, the hymn is carried through to each church service - including baptisms and weddings - for 40 days following Easter. At the end of Saturday's midnight mass, all families and friends greet one another with ‘Christos Anesti’ (Christ has risen), to which one responds 'Alithos Anesti' (truly risen). Communion may be taken at the end of the service which concludes around 3.00 am when everyone is ready to go home for the traditional post-midnight feast. Many families, prior to entering their homes for the midnight supper, use their holy lit candle to mark a cross in the doorway entrance, as a sign of a blessing. They keep their candles lit inside their homes for 40 days. Once at home, a light supper meal of maghiritsa soup is served, followed by the famous and most popular tradition among Greeks, 'the red egg cracking'. EASTER SUNDAY The Easter celebration lunch is without doubt a family affair, where traditionally the men of the family gather early in the morning to prepare the spit-roasted lamb while the women cook traditional Greek food and desserts. "The Luncheon Feast usually consists of an assortment of dips, home-made bread and fresh salads," Pantahos writes in her book. "This feast is best served with chilled retsina, the traditional resin-flavoured dry white wine, to perfectly complement the wonderful Greek flavours," she adds. Following lunch, the red-dyed eggs are brought to the table for the egg cracking competition. According to Greek tradition, the last person holding the unbroken egg is blessed with good fortune. Easter koulourakia are served after lunch with Greek coffee, and the 'glendi' continues with the most important part of any Greek celebration; music and dancing lasting into the late hours of the night. Χρόνια Πολλά και Καλό Πάσχα σε όλους!
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