Major Holidays and Celebrations in Greece
Greece is a country rich in history, culture, and traditions. It is no surprise that there are numerous holidays and celebrations that take place throughout the year. These events not only celebrate religious occasions but also commemorate historical events and practices that have been passed down through generations. Here are some of the most important holidays and celebrations that you can experience in Greece:
Easter is the most important religious holiday in Greece. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm and is a time of joy and renewal. The celebration begins on Good Friday when people carry the epitaph, a symbolic representation of the tomb of Jesus Christ, through the streets. On Holy Saturday, people gather around the church to light their candles from the Holy Flame. Easter Sunday is when families gather to break the fast with a traditional meal and the cracking of red eggs.
Clean Monday or “Kathara Deftera” marks the beginning of lent and is celebrated seven weeks before Easter. On this day, Greeks gather together to fly kites and eat traditional foods such as lagana (a type of bread), taramosalata (fish roe dip), and octopus.
March 25th marks Greek Independence Day, which commemorates the start of the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire. It is a national holiday and is celebrated with parades, fireworks, and the singing of national poems and songs in honor of the heroes of the revolution.
Christmas is celebrated in Greece by visiting family and friends, decorating Christmas trees, and exchanging gifts. One of the most prominent customs is the hanging of wooden or metal ornaments called “karavakia” on the Christmas tree, which contain wishes for health, wealth, and happiness.
The carnival season or “Apokries” is celebrated for three weeks before Athens Christian Lent. The highlight of the carnival season is the Grand Carnival Parade, which takes place on the last Sunday of the carnival in the city of Patras.
Greek Orthodox Church has a tradition of celebrating the name day of a person, which in some cases is more important than the actual birthday. It is the day dedicated to the saint that a person is named after. Greeks celebrate their name day by hosting an open-house party where they serve traditional foods such as “kourabiedes” and “melomakarona” to their guests.
In conclusion, Greece has a rich history and culture that is celebrated throughout the year with various holidays and festivities. These events not only represent religious beliefs but also serve as an opportunity to bring friends and family together to celebrate traditions that have been passed down through generations.
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