The whole week leading up to Easter Sunday is filled with church services on Skopelos and you might have already been to one of the churches and seen what is going on. Friday and Saturday are the highlights and are interesting to follow. On Friday evening the church service will not be celebrated because it is the period when the crucifixion of Christ is being mourned.
The Friday procession will almost look like a burial procession. Most people will have dark-coloured candles, which will be lit inside the church and everybody will light each other’s candle. The epitafeio, or bier, carrying the icon representing the body of Christ, leaves the church and everybody follows the procession. It starts from the Christos church and after that passes Agios Jannis/Pandelemon, Panagia Papameletiou and Faneromeni. Find one of those churches and go there early in the evening, follow the crowd and join in!
On Saturday evening a church service culminates at midnight when the priest exits the church and tells the churchgoers that Christ has risen (Χριστός Ἀνέστη! – Christos anesti!). Everyone greets each other by saying Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! – Alithos anesti! (truly, Christ has risen!) or χρόνια πολλά – kronia polla (many years)!
Most Greeks will go home and eat together or will go to a taverna to eat the Easter soup, Mayiritsa. The main Easter meal (on Easter Sunday) is lamb or goat, and this soup was designed to use the leftover parts so that nothing went to waste. This soup is prepared on Holy Saturday and eaten to break the fast after the midnight church service. Traditionally, the soup is put on low heat to cook before leaving for church and eaten afterwards.
Most people will carry coloured candles and children will have toys attached to their candles. It is difficult to get the lighted candle home, but if you manage this the holy light is in your house too and is believed to bring the household good luck for the following year. Many people will mark the lintel with a cross from the flame of the candle.
On Sunday everywhere celebrations will be held and people will eat meat again after forty days of the Lenten fast. Many restaurants will be open and the barbecues will be working overtime.
For me (Daphne) it is always a task to organize and think about which days the shops are closed and what to get in the house but this year it is even harder because the first of May is moved to another day (ever heard of that?).
The national May Day Holiday (or Πρωτομαγιά in Greek) celebrated on May 1 2016 will be moved to Tuesday May 3 2016 as it coincides with Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday.
So, how much bread, how much milk? Can my freezer take all the stuff so we can feed all those people? Help! And happy Easter!