Mykonos Easter Traditions

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Apart from the flowers blooming and the sun shining, spring brings along the start of the tourist season and the “awakening” of Mykonos. Greek Easter, the highlight of the season, is a big deal and a cause for a great celebration everywhere in Greece, as it is considered as a holiday even more important than Christmas.

In the Holy Week (which is later in Greece than in the non-orthodox Christian world), Greeks swarm to Mykonos for a unique combo of crazy partying, together with a taste of traditional customs that still live strong.

At the start of Lent, there is a custom to bring the old holy icon of Panagia Tourliani from the monastery of Ano Mera to the town. This happens on the first Saturday after Clean Monday. The locals follow the procession on foot, a two-hour walk. The icon returns to its original place on the Saturday of Lazarus, again in a procession followed by locals. On that day, bakeries prepare the “lazarakia”, a type of sweet pastry-shaped men with their arms crossed, eyes of aromatic cloves, sugar and currants.

On the Sunday of Vaya, locals and priests from the island’s churches gather at the church of Saint Helene on the Castle (the town’s old metropolis). From there, the holy icon is paraded while children carry hand-made wreaths knitted from palm tree branches.

On the Holy Week, homes and bakeries make the “Lambrokouloures” (meaning Easter round shaped biscuits) and decorate them with eggs that are dyed red for Easter. Those are offered as gifts and every home has to put them on display until Good Saturday. On Good Friday, bakeries shape the bread to a cross and cut it by hand, in a symbolic tradition that does not allow locals to use knives on that day. According to religion, this is a day of deep sorrow, and local women sing sad gospels, symbolic to the lament of the Virgin Mary. The epitaph is the procession of the body of Christ all around villages, again followed by locals.

However, from the evening of Good Saturday and until all through Easter Sunday, it is celebration time! Everyone gathers at church on the Saturday, just before midnight, to “witness” the Resurrection of Christ and the appearance of the Holy Light, while fireworks are blazing in the sky and people kiss each other and confirm that Jesus was indeed resurrected.

A feast follows after that with the traditional “Mageiritsa” soup of entrails and greens, or boiled lamb. Then, the party is mandatory until the morning. Of course, you can be sure that partying is expected every night if you’re visiting Mykonos, because as quaint and delightful traditions might be, very few people follow them to a T).

Easter Sunday is the traditional day of festivities, with lambs being roasted on the spit from early morning, the mouth-watering smell waking up party-goers more effectively than a double espresso. Traditional onion pie, kopanisti cheese and louza, the Mykonian sausage, as well as fried liver and red eggs are also served on the day, to ensure someone going into a trans-fat coma, especially after forty days of Lent. It’s all good if it’s part of the tradition!

For the happiest Easter of your life, book your stay at a Mykonos luxury villa!

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