Greek Easter 2019
For most of us, Easter is over once the chocolate eggs have been devoured over the four-day weekend that starts with Good Friday and ends with Easter Monday.
But that doesn't necessarily mean the Easter celebrations are over for everyone.
That’s because there is more than one Easter.
Confused? Let us explain.
Why is there another Easter?
Most people celebrate Easter on the dates recognised by the Western Christian world - which covers almost 90 per cent of Christians across the globe.
These dates are based on the Gregorian calendar that’s widely used today.
But there are also the celebrations of Eastern Christianity.
This is known as Greek Easter or Orthodox Easter.
Why is Greek Easter on different dates?
The dates are often different because they are based on the old Julian calendar.
Although most of the world now follows the Gregorian calendar, the Eastern Orthodox Church still uses the earlier Julian calendar for calculating the dates of festivals such as Easter that are not fixed.
In SOME years the dates on both calendars happen to be the same.
When is Greek Orthodox Easter in 2019?
We already know the dates for 2019 and they are as follows:
Good Friday - April 26. 2019
Holy Saturday - April 27. 2019
Easter Sunday or Easter Day - April 28. 2019
Easter Monday - April 29. 2019
This means that Greek Orthodox Easter will be a week after western Easter, which also happened in 2018.
In some years - as in 2017 - the western and Greek Orthodox dates for Easter end up being the same.
How is Greek Easter celebrated?
The main date is Easter Sunday, or Easter Day, which is when Christ’s Resurrection took place.
The fasting of Lent continues throughout Holy Week, which ends on Easter Sunday.
Preparations begin on Holy Thursday. Easter bread (tsoureki) is baked and eggs are coloured with red dye. Red is the colour of life and also symbolic of the blood of Christ.
Good Friday is a day of mourning. The most devout do not eat or cook at all, but if any cooking must be done, it’s only simple foods such as tahini soup.
Flowers are taken to church to decorate a representation of the body of Christ, which is carried in a procession during a Service of Lamentation.
On Easter Saturday, families prepare mayiritsa, a soup made from lamb (or goat kid) offal and tripe, cooked on the stove with onions and herbs (plus an egg and lemon sauce that's mixed in at the end). Sometimes it's made with chicken instead. It’s usually left on a low heat when everyone goes to church in the evening so it can be eaten when they get back.
Worshippers go to church with special white candles which are lit just before midnight as the Eternal Flame on the altar is passed around the congregation.
After midnight, as Easter Day begins, there are early morning prayer services and a communion.
Traditionally, the worshippers carry their flame home and use it to light other candles in the house. Families then gather around the table and break their fast with soup, bread and eggs. The easter eggs are usually colored in red and there is also comes a small traditional game with them. Two people are holding the red eggs in their hands. The one who is cracking the other ones egg is the lucky winner.
On Easter Sunday morning, a meal of roast lamb is made and households enjoy a feast of eating and drinking until well into the night.
In Greece itself, the Eternal Flame arrives by military jet on Easter Saturday and is given to the priests to take to their local churches. At midnight, the whole country comes to life with church bells, ships’ horns, floodlights and fireworks.
Orthodox Easter celebrations can vary in other countries such as Russia.