School preparation for the workshop about doing surveys on native traditions, rites and customs concerning the major spring religious holiday in Greece: Easter.
We meet to decide on the type of presentation and rituals we are going to present to partner teams to Bulgaria.
Survey on common spring / Easter traditions
The Greek workshop
· Easter eggs
· The Easter bunny
· The Easter lilies
· The lamb
· The cross
· Hot cross buns
· The butterfly
• Easter also called Pasch or Resurrection Sunday is a festival and holiday celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred three days after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent ,a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
• Saturday Morning of St. Lazarus.
On this day, the rising from the dead of St. Lazarus, the righteous friend of Christ, is celebrated . A short time earlier Christ had risen Lazarus from the dead, thereby gaining the respect and faith of the people, but also the hatred of the fanatics. The Church names this day the “Saturday of Lazarus” in remembrance of the resurrection of Lazarus and its promise of universal resurrection for all men.
• Sunday Morning.
Palm Sunday celebrates the glorious and brilliant feast of the Entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. The main road leading to Jerusalem was covered with palm trees. The multitudes, with palm branches in their hands, spread their cloaks on the road as a show of respect, crying out, "Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.'
• Great Holy and Monday Morning.
Holy Monday or Great and Holy Monday is the Monday of Holy Week, which precedes the commemoration of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.
• Great Holy Tuesday Evening.
On Wednesday of Holy Week ,it has been ordained by the Holy Fathers of the Church that commemoration should be made of the anointing of Christ with myrrh by the woman in the house of Simon. Repentance was the mission of the prophets. It would be an apt one-word title for the Bible, because "repentance" was the mission of our Lord. On this evening is sung the beautiful "Hymn of Cassiane," probably a work of Patriarch Photius.
• Great Holy and Wednesday Evening.
It is the evening of repentance, confession, and the remission of sins by the Lord, preparing the faithful to receive Holy Communion, usually the next day, Holy Thursday morning. Holy Unction is the Mystery for cleansing sins and renewing the body and the spirit of the faithful.
• Great Holy Thursday Morning and Evening.
Jesus drew His last breath of freedom on this Thursday night. Christ knew all the incidents which were about to take place and called to Him His Apostles in order to institute the Holy Eucharist for them and for the Church forever. Christ presented Bread and Wine as the Elements of His Very Body and His Very Blood; they are the Precious Gifts which have been left as His perpetual Presence in the Church. After this agony of the "bloody sweat" came the kiss of Judas and His arrest. He thus became the source of spiritual and physical freedom for mankind. Good Friday celebrates the holy, saving, and awesome Passion of Christ. To take away our sins, Christ willingly endured spitting, scourging, buffeting, scorn, mocking, the reed, sponge, vinegar, nails, spear, and above all, the Cross and Death. While the Holy Thursday’s evening we are reading "Twelve Gospels". After the reading of the fifth Gospel comes the procession with the Crucifix around the church, while the priest chants the 15th antiphon. On Holy Thursday we also dying eggs, baking cookies and we never listen to music.
• Holy Friday Morning and Evening.
As the priest reads the Gospel, "and taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in a white cloth," he removes the Body of Christ from the Cross, wraps It in a white cloth, and takes It to the altar. The priest then chants a mourning hymn. Then he carries the cloth on which the Body of Christ is painted or embroidered around the church before placing It inside the Sepulcher, a carved bier which symbolizes the Tomb of Christ. We are reminded that during Christ's entombment, He descends into Hades to free the dead of the ages before His Incarnation. Christians observe Good Friday with fasting, prayer, cleanliness, self-examination, confession, and good works, in humility and repentance so that the Grace of the Cross might descend upon them.
• Great Holy Saturday Morning.
Psalms are read and Resurrection hymns are sung which tell of Christ's descent into Hades. Thus this day's celebration is called "First Resurrection." After the reading of the Epistle, the priest follows the custom of tossing of laurel. The Divine Liturgy ends with the Communion Hymn: "So the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and He is risen to save us."At the evening we are going to the church and at twelve o’clock we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Orthros of the Resurrection begins in complete darkness. The priest takes light from the vigil light and gives it to the faithful, who are holding candles. Then comes the breathless moment as the people wait for the priest to start the hymn of Resurrection, which they join him in singing, repeatedly: "Christ has Risen from the dead, by death trampling upon Death, and has bestowed life upon those in the tombs." From this moment, the entire service takes on a joyous Easter atmosphere. Then we return to our homes where we are eating a traditional meal. We are holding the holy fire at our candles for about 40 days.
• The Holy Sunday of Easter.
Easter Sunday afternoon, the faithful gather once more for prayer with lighted candles. All sing the hymn, "Christ is Risen from the Dead." The people greet one another joyously, saying: "Christ is Risen," the Easter salutation which is answered, "Truly He is Risen. On Sunday’s morning we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We are together with all of our relatives and we roast lamps and dance until the night.
FOODS AND DRINKS:
· Tsoureki, a sweet Easter bread, is another food prepared during the traditionally frugal Holy Week.
· A special soup called magiritsa which is made with lamb innards.
· Red eggs
· Each person holds an egg and taps the eggs of others in the family. Whoever manages to break the other eggs without breaking their own is the winner.Τhe game is called tsougrisma.
· The family chooses a lamb, they put it on a spit and cook it over coal for hours.
· People exchange wishes such as Christos Anesti and Alithos o Kirios.
· Shortly before midnight, people gather in church holding white candles which they light with the “Holy Light” distributed by the priest.
· With the Holy Light of the candles, we make three times the sign of the cross on the door post over the front door of their houses for good luck.
· Children go from house to house in groups singing the carols (kalanda).
· Women and children go to church to decorate the Epitaph (Bier of Christ) with flowers.
· On Saturday morning, preparations start for the festive dinner and a special soup is cooked called “maghiritsa”.
· Because Friday is a day of mourning, housewives avoid doing housework.
· Housewives traditionally prepare special cakes named tsourekia, biscuits and red color eggs.