Easter (Πάσχα)

On Good Friday (Megali Paraskevi) villagers carry candles and follow the procession of the Epitaph. After the Epitaph (or Christ’s funeral bier), decorated with flowers, has been processed all over the town, it ends up to the port and the people who carry it get it in the sea, so that both the people and the sea are blessed by the Holy Epitaph.

On Saturday, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated at midnight in church courtyard; at the conclusion, bells are rung all over town. People gather in the churches with candles, which they light, one from the other, as soon as the Holy Light from Jerusalem has arrived (literally, by boat that evening). At midnight the priest chants “Christos Anesti” (“Christ is risen”). At this point celebrants make their way home by the light of their candles, which they then use to make the sign of a cross over the threshold as a  blessing. They then sit down to a traditional feast of dyed red Easter eggs and Magaritsa soup.

On Easter Sunday, locals celebrate with a traditional meal of roast lamb (prepared outdoors on a spit) and abundant wine. Red eggs are cracked against each other, and the person with the last uncracked egg is supposed to have good luck. The feast lasts into the afternoon (and sometimes into the night). The Holy Week culminates in the evening with the “Burning of Judah,” accompanied by a fireworks display.


Good Friday Easter Processions

Saturday Midnight Service: Christos Anesti! (Christ is Risen!)

The Burning of Judas in Hydra Harbor

In this Easter ritual in many Orthodox and Catholic Christian communities, observers burn, flog, or otherwise deface an effigy of Judas Iscariot. Though not an official part of the Easter liturgical cycle, the custom is typically a part of the reenactment of the story of the Passion. Customs vary, but the effigy of Judas is typically hanged (reenacting Matthew 27:5) on Good Friday, then burned on the night of Easter Sunday. On Hydra, the effigy is also shot!

Click for images posted to Flickr by HydraGR of the burning of Judas on Sunday to close the Pascha festivities on Hydra.

Effigy of Judas in Hydra Port
Effigy of Judas in Hydra Port