While here in the UK we have already got the Easter celebrations out of the way the Christian Orthodox countries such as Greece are just about to begin theirs this weekend.
The reason behind the delay in the Easter celebrations is because of the difference in the calendars that they follow. In a lot of the eastern Christian countries, they follow the Julian calendar opposed to the Gregorian calendar which is widely used by most countries today. It is not only Greece that celebrates Easter a little later but Russia as well as other Balkan, middle eastern and former Soviet countries.
Easter in the UK is celebrated with eggs whether they be chocolate, soft/hard boiled, poached or any other way. You may attend a church service or just make it a day for family and friends. If you wonder why Lamb is the main feature for meals around Eastertime this is because according to Apostle, Jesus was the lamb of god. Eggs represent the symbol of new life or the emergence of Jesus from the tomb and in Greece, they paint eggs a red colour to represent the blood from Christ’s tomb. Church services begin on Good Friday 26th April 2019, and on this day tend to have a more sombre affair to them, flags at half-mast and a few bells ringing to represent Christ’s passing.
In Greece and other countries, they still follow similar Easter celebrations but with the addition of getting out the fireworks and homemade bombs and even in some cases nearly setting the town on fire in the name of tradition.
The Saturday in western Christianity Is the day where the main celebrations are. “Holy Saturday” is the most important and takes place around midnight. When finished church bells ring out, fireworks and crackers are released all over towns and villages to mark the resurrection. Also, on the Holy Saturday, you will find another explosive celebration taking place on the tiny island of Chios – known to many as rouketopolemos or rocket wars. This annual tradition takes place in the town of Vrontado, along with two rival parishes that live on the opposite sides of the hills in the town. After the announcement of the resurrection is made thousands of rockets are then released from the two villages aiming for the bell tower of each other’s churches. The next day is when the successor is decided by how many hits, each year both congregations decide they are the winners, agree to disagree so they can prepare and do it all again next year.
In Kalamata the city in Southern Greece Easter is celebrated with a re-enactment of Greece pushing back against the Turkish army in the revolution. They did this with homemade IEDs to scare away the horses. It takes place on the Sunday evening when gangs on each side re-enact the battle in traditional costumes, the making of the IED is a family fun ritual and they start as early as Christmas producing these, even younger members of the family take part in the celebration with smaller sparklers.
Not only explosive action takes place in Samos, a Greek island just off the Turkish mainland for Easter but this is also a celebration for when Greece gained independence from the Ottoman empire. Thousands of artillery shells are filled with gunpowder and placed on slopes all around the village which has taken place for over 100 years known as the custom of the rifles. Easter Sunday is when they are lit and set off creating a bellow of smoke and constant explosions a spectacular thing to watch.
Here are just a few examples of how you can celebrate your extended Easter weekend a little different to ours here in the UK. if you are lucky enough to be anywhere near here over the holidays why not witness some of the extraordinary celebrations first hand and get that little bit of a pyro fix early.