Greece Cultural Events and Festivals
Predominantly rural, Greece is deeply attached to its locally produced food and wine, and chapels dotting the countryside serve as the focus for culinary, as well as religious, celebrations. Festivals of the Orthodox Church are deeply identified with Greekness, no more so than on 25 March, a date which commemorates both the Feast of
the Annunciation and the start of the Independence uprising in 1821. Summer festivals are celebrated widely in rural villages, and expatriate Greeks return from across the globe. Organized arts events are a more recent phenomenon, paralleling the rise of tourism.
Spring is a glorious time in Greece. The lowland landscape, parched for much of the year, luxuriates in a carpet of green, and wild flowers abound. But the weather does not stabilize until late spring, with rainy or blustery days common in March and April. Artichokes ripen in March, and May sees the first strawberries. The fishing season lasts to the end of May, overlapping with the start of the tourist season. Spring festivities focus on Easter.
March Apókries, Carnival Sunday (first Sun before Lent). Carnivals take place for three weeks leading up to this climax of pre-Lenten festivities. There are parades and costume balls in many large cities, and the port of Pátra hosts one of the most exuberant celebrations. Katharí Deftéra, Clean Monday (immediately after “Cheese Sunday” – seven Sundays before Easter). Kites are flown in the countryside. Greece Cultural Events and Festivals
Independence Day and Evangelismós (25 Mar). A national holiday, with parades and dances nationwide celebrating the 1821 revolt against the Ottoman Empire. The religious festival, one of the most important for the Orthodox Church, marks the Angel Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary that she was to become the Holy Mother.
Firewalking in Agia Eleni villageWhen the coal was ready it was layed carefully. Large number of people had already found their place to stand in order to watch the Anastenarides. French, Canadians, Chinese and dozens of pupils from Thessaloniki!
Greece Cultural Events and Festivals
Everybody was waiting for the firewalkers to come to the state of mind that was required. After a while, musicians rushed in the place and behind them the firewalkes started taking their places on both sides of the fire. Music kept playing and the first courageous people started dancing on the burning coal.
Celebrating Easter as a cultural and religious event in Greece
Greek Orthodox Easter can fall up to three weeks either side of Western Easter. It is the most important religious festival in Greece, and Holy Week is a time for Greek families to reunite. It is also a good time to visit Greece, to see the processions and church services and to sample the Easter food. The ceremony and symbolism is a direct link with Greece’s Byzantine past, as well as with earlier and more primitive beliefs. The festivities reach a climax at midnight on Easter Saturday. As priests intone “Christ is risen”, fireworks are lit, the explosions ushering in a Sunday devoted to feasting, music and dance. Smaller, more isolated towns, such as Andrítsaina and Koróni in the Peloponnese, and Polýgyros (the capital of Chalkidikí), are particularly worth visiting during Holy Week for the Friday and Saturday night services.
Easter biscuits celebrate the end of Lent.
Another Easter dish, magirítsa soup, is made of lamb’s innards and is eaten in the early hours of Easter Sunday.
Megáli Evdomáda, Holy Week (Apr or May), including Kyriakí ton Vaíon (Palm Sunday), Megáli Pémpti (Maundy Thursday), Megáli Paraskeví (Good Friday), Megálo Sávvato (Easter Saturday), and the most important date in the Orthodox calendar, Páscha (Easter Sunday). Agios Geórgios, St George’s Day (23 Apr).