Greek Religious holidays
Below are presented in chronological order the major religious holidays taking place in Greece. Even though many regions may celebrate the same anniversary, the celebrations might differ due to the local tradition and customs of each place.
On January 1st , is the feast of Saint Basil, which coincides with the New Year. On New Year’s Eve tables, Greek families have a traditional Pie prepared, which hides a coin in its inside. They pie is cut into pieces which are offered to the family members. The one who finds the coin is considered to be lucky for the whole year to come.
On January 6, follows the day of the Epiphany. It is the celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ in Jordan River. Throughout Greece, priests throw the Holy Cross in lakes, rivers or the sea and people race in order to catch It.
Seven weeks before Easter Sunday, the tradition of Shrove Tuesday is carried. The date of this celebration depends on the date of Easter, thus it changes every year. During this celebration, relatives and friends are gathered, they enjoy local Lenten dishes and the sky across the country fills with beautiful improvised or modern kites.
During Holy week, the faithful venerate the Passion of Jesus Christ, culminating on Easter Sunday, when the Resurrection is celebrated. The evening of the Resurrection, when a gospel called “Christ is risen” is heard, the night sky is lit by a multitude of colorful fireworks. The celebrations of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ differ from region to region, depending on local tradition and customs. On Easter Sunday, relatives and friends are gathered in houses and impale spit. This is another celebration which date change every year, depending on the first full moon of the vernal equinox.
During Holy Week, until Easter Saturday, Christians wish to each other “Happy Easter”. It is worth mentioning that apart from the religious significance of this phrase, there is also a historical fact hidden in it. Before the Liberation of the Greek Nation from the Ottoman Empire, the Greeks used this very same phrase as a password-hope, symbolizing their expectation for “resurrection” of the Nation.
Fifty days after Easter Sunday, is the celebration of the Holy Spirit. The descent of the Holy Spirit to the Twelve Apostles is celebrated that day.
Another religious holiday of great importance in Greece is the Assumption of Virgin Mary, on August 15. Faithfull from all over Greece bow in reverence to temples and churches dedicated to Virgin Mary. That day, in many places all over the country, big festivals with traditional music, dance and local delicacies take place.
Finally, on December 25, Christmas is celebrated. The whole country is filled with decorated Christmas trees and boats, and everywhere on the streets you can hear the local traditional carols.