Saturday, April 16, 2011

Greek Orthodox Easter Celebrations

Easter is the most sacred observance in the Greek Orthodox faith, and the preparations and customs remain some of the most traditional in modern Greek life.

Easter for the Greeks, though, is not exclusive to one day. For the Greeks, Easter is a weeklong holiday that is filled with many traditions, and (of course...) GREEK FOOD! Some of the most important days, though, are those that are the closest to Easter Sunday itself.

Holy Thursday, also known as Covenant Thursday, Great & Holy Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, is the feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that honors the Last Supper of Christ with the Apostles. To begin the Easter preparations, on Holy Thursday the customary Easter bread, tsoureki, is baked, and eggs are dyed red (red is the color of life as well as a representation of the blood of Christ).

Good Friday is also known as Holy Friday or Great Friday and is used to observe the crucifixion and death of Christ at Calvary, and is seen as the holiest day of Holy Week. This day is one of mourning, not of work (including cooking...), and is also the only day during the year when the Divine Liturgy is not read. Many devout do not cook on Holy Friday, but if they do, traditional foods are simple, perhaps boiled in water (no oil) and seasoned with vinegar - like beans - or thin soups like tahinosoupa, a soup made with tahini.

On Great and Holy Saturday the Orthodox Church honors the burial of Christ. It is the day between the Crucifixion of the Lord and His Resurrection. On the morning of Holy Saturday, preparations begin for the next day’s Easter feast. Dishes that can be prepared in advance are made, and the traditional mayiritsa soup is prepared, which will be eaten after the midnight service, to "break the fast". Once home from the sight of the Eternal Flame being passed from person to person in the church courtyard, everyone gathers around the table for a traditional meal to main attraction of the day, which is whole roasted lamb or goat (kid) to represent the Lamb of God, and with traditional accompaniments and all the trimmings too! Great Greek wines, ouzo, and other drinks are everywhere, and preparations for the meal turn into festive celebrations even before the eating begins. These high-spirited gatherings often last long into the night.

If on Easter Day, though, you are not in Greece, or (for some weird reason), you are, in fact - not Greek, then join us at all three Zizikis Restaurants for a Special Easter Brunch featuring complimentary mimosas or champagne. Our regular dinner menu will be offered for dinner on Easter, as well. OPA!

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