We had a fabulous time in Crete at Kiani Beach Resort, I know I have said it before but we did have the best time. We have a lot of happy memories and also we learnt a lot of new things too. Including all about a Greek Easter, their traditions and how different it is to the English Easter celebrations.
I made a little video of my experience in Crete of a Greek Easter, see if you jump at the same point I did!
The first thing we learnt is that Greek Easter falls on a different weekend to the English Easter weekend. So, we celebrated Easter in England then flew to Greece and celebrated there a week later.
How is Greek Easter calculated?
I have tried my best to understand this. I loved learning all these things about how Easter is calculated. So England, much like a lot of Western Countries, calculate Easter based on the Gregorian Calendar. Greece follow the Julian Calendar.
The ancient calendar, the Julian Calendar, was first used by the Roman Emperor Julian. This took effect on 1 January 45 BC. The cycle of three normal years (365 days) and a leap year means that the Julian calendar drifts over time. So as a result of this calendar, every century 4 days or so are gained. As you can imagine that could end up meaning June started, according to the calendar, when the Country was in Winter or vice versa. The Gregorian Calendar was developed to balance out the extra days.
This calendar was created by Pope Gregory in October 1582, to try and align the 10 days difference between the calendar and reality. So, on the 4 October 1582 it was deemed that 10 days had to be skipped in order to align, the following day was 15 October 1582. Can you imagine?
In the Gregorian calendar, years that are evenly divisible by 100 are not leap years, except years that are equally divisible by 400. So this changes Julian’s leap year theory somewhat, but means that the year will not slip over time and that Summer is Summer.
To answer the question, the Greek Easter is calculated by: the Julian Calendar, it must fall after the Jewish holiday of Passover and it must be on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. Whereas, the English Easter is calculated by the Gregorian Calendar, it must fall on the first Sunday after the full moon that falls on or after March 21. March 21 is the churches data of the March Equinox, this is the day that has equal day and night! There’s another day in September that does this. Amazed yet?
How did we celebrate the Greek Easter?
On Holy Saturday, at midnight, I was taken to a local church where I watched the crowds appear. The Eternal Flame is lit at the altar, then filtered around the congregation until every one has a special white candle alight. This is a symbol that Jesus has risen, he is the light. Everyone then takes their candles home to light a candle within their homes and bring the light home. This brings luck and good health.
After we lit our candles, we followed the crowds to a large bonfire where they had a Judas effigy on the top which was burned. Fire crackers were going off left, right and centre and there was a short firework display. It was a big celebration to mark the start of Easter Sunday.
As they had been fasting from meat for such a long time, people go back to their homes and spend Easter Sunday eating a lot of meat – it’s traditional for lamb to be roasted on a spit. I, obviously, didn’t get involved with that tradition but I enjoyed the large feasts of leftover vegetarian foods.
What about the chocolate eggs?
It was funny as the Greeks had no idea about the chocolate eggs that we exchange. The only egg symbol in a Greek Easter is that they boil eggs and paint them red to symbolise Jesus’s blood. They were scattered around the hotel on Easter Sunday.
Our Easter Sunday celebration
We had such a fun day on Easter Sunday, the hotel put on entertainment all day and a huge feast at lunchtime. The children enjoyed dancing along to the Greek singers and watching the Greek dancers. It was fascinating. Thank you Kiani Beach Resort for making it such a fun day for us all. We were really brought into the spirit of their special day. It is the biggest celebration in Greece.
I would love to know what you think about this post? I hope it makes sense, my interpretations of what I have been told. I will leave you with some Greek Easter phrases that I was given and we practiced over the weekend: