I have wonderful memories of the first time I spent Easter in Greece.
I was invited to spend the weekend with my boyfriend’s family. There was so much happening, lots of activity around the house preparing and celebrating the whole weekend. On Good Friday evening we went joined the crowds lining the streets of the town to watch the procession.
On Saturday morning, we went across the city to our friendly butcher to pick up the whole lamb that our family had ordered weeks earlier. That afternoon, the men prepared the lamb for the spit, ready to be cooked on Sunday. They seasoned it well with plenty of salt, pepper, oregano and olive oil. They then secured it onto the spit and covered it with baking paper. Later, they dug the hole in the ground where it was going to be cooked and prepared it with charcoal ready for the morning.
The women of the house were busy shopping for fresh food and vegetables ready for the Sunday meal. Back at the house, there was lots of tempting, mouth-watering aromas coming from the kitchen, home baked Easter cookies, Tsoureki – Easter Bread and other delicious snacks, as well as preparing Mayeritsa, the Easter Soup.
Late Saturday evening we all headed down to the church in the town square, it was packed. There was a sparkling atmosphere, everyone was happy and laughing, cheerful to be out at midnight, socialising and catching up with their neighbours. We all bought candles, thin, tall white candles with a little plastic scoop at the bottom to catch the dripping wax. At midnight, there was chanting coming from inside the church, the lights went out and slowly flickering candle lights started to spread through the crowd.
From one main candle in the church, that was then used to light the candles round them, and so it spread out as more people’s candles were lit and being lit. It was quite a touching moment! As the candles were lit, people would say Christos Anesti and the other would reply Alithos Anesti. After all this went on, everyone slowly walked home, chatting and cheerful, careful not to let our candles go out until we’d reached home, for good luck. It was quite a sight seeing hundreds of flickering candles making their way in the dark of night through the streets. At our house, one of the men used his candle to put a cross over the front door – the entrance to our house, to bring good luck to the house and all who lived there.
That night the family sat down to eat Mayeritsa, Easter soup. Traditionally it is eaten after midnight on Saturday, when the 40 days of lent has finished, and to prepare the stomach with a little meat before the big feast of lamb on Sunday. As I’d seen what went in it, I decided to pass! I felt my stomach would survive the onslaught of lamb the next day!
Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How?
Simply click here to return to Your Greek Easter Stories.