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Greek Orthodox Easter at Chania

During Easter, the city of Chania is at its best!

People can enjoy the traditional Cretan customs and at the same time the wonderful blooming nature. Easter (Pascha) is the most important holiday in Greece, and the most important festival for the Greek Orthodox Church. The week leading up to Easter is known as Holy Week and Church services are held every night.

From Holy Wednesday till the following Monday, religious programs are herd to the radio and the television. It is an excellent time to be in Crete, both for the moving ceremonies and for the days of celebration.

On Holy Thursday, women dye the eggs red, symbolizing the blood of Christ and bake Easter biscuits, the so called tsourekakia and kalitsounia (cheese pies), while men gather the wood which they will use to burn an effigy of Judas, in a custom meant to symbolize a punishment for his betrayal.

Holy Friday is the day of mourning and at dusk the Epitafios, Christ's funeral tomb, decorated by the women and the children is being carried at the streets with people following behind.

On Easter Saturday the Resurrection is celebrated. At the stroke of midnight all lights in each church are switched off, indicating Christ passing to the underworld. Then the priest appears holding the Holy Light and lights up the candle of the nearest worshiper intoning "Defte, lavethe fos" (Come, take the light) to be greeted by the response "Hristos Anesti" (Christ is risen). And the flame goes round, until the entire church is illuminated with burning candles.

The lamb of the Easter Sunday is a symbol for the sacrifice of Jesus, who was sacrificed like a lamb for the salvation of all people. So, on Easter Sunday the tradition is lamb roasting and family gathering with good friends.

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