Easter Rituals of Orthodox Greeks
During Megali Evdomada (Holy Week), traditional Easter dishes are prepared in every Greek household: koulouria, twisted olive oil cookies, tsoureki, a plaited brioche with a red egg planted in the middle, and (not for the faint-hearted) kokoretsi, skewers of offal tightly coiled in intestines.
Eggs are ceremoniously dyed red on Good Thursday, representing the Crucifixion of Christ, but are not eaten till after the Resurrection, on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. On Good Friday, women and children pick flowers to decorate the epitaphio, a casket used to recreate the burial of Christ. Towards the end of the liturgy, the priest leads the congregation in a funeral procession to the cemetery, or sometimes even into the sea.
On Holy Saturday, Greeks gather at their local church to light a candle and wait for the stroke of midnight to chant in unison: “Christos Anesti!” (Christ is risen!) To which you should reply: “Alithos anesti!” (He is risen indeed!). The resurrection is celebrated with a flurry of fireworks and firecrackers and a midnight feast of magiritsa, a lemon-and-egg soup bobbing with innards and herbs.
On Easter Sunday, there is singing, dancing, and wine flowing, as a whole sacrificial lamb, marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and oregano, is spit-roast on an open fire. Instead of a chocolate egg hunt, boiled eggs, dyed as red as the blood of Christ, are cracked like conkers. The egg that survives intact will bring its bearer good luck.