The timeless Easter traditions of Greece

Some traditions go back many centuries

The Greek Orthodox Church is blessed with rich, colorful and symbolic Resurrection and Easter traditions, even more so than the Catholic Church, and Greeks have followed these traditions faithfully for many centuries.

The most important tradition begins on Holy Friday with the Epitaphios (a wooden bier-like structure holding an icon of Jesus) and its procession in the streets around the church. It is the saddest day of the entire year for Orthodox Christians because Christ is considered to be lying in his tomb after his crucifixion.

On the morning of Holy Friday, women and children go to church and decorate the Epitaph. The faithful place hundreds of flowers all around the wooden arch, venerate the icon underneath it, and kneel and go under it to receive God’s grace.

In the evening, the “Epitaphios” procession takes place in every parish across Greece. The Epitaph is taken out of the church and the procession begins, with parishioners following, solemnly holding lit beeswax candles, while churchbells ring mournfully.

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