Easter is probably the most important festivity of the Greek Christian Orthodox religion; it’s definitely the most celebrated one! Easter related traditions can be found in every corner of the country, each with its own distinct and local characteristics, and an extraordinary place such as the island of Santorini could not be without its own selection of such traditions.
One of the most distinctive Easter traditions of Santorini takes place in the quaint Megalochori village; on the Saturday of Lazarus (one week before Easter) the locals set up a tall wooden cross in the main square, which they then proceed to decorate with flowers and rosemary. The cross of Lazarus is then perched in the village square for the remaining days of the Holy Week.
On Holy Friday, a mournful procession of the Epitaph takes place around every church on the island. In Fira, two different epitaphs meet in the central square, whereas in the atmospheric village of Pyrgos the procession is one of the most impressive and awe inspiring in Greece. Before the epitaph begins, the people of Pyrgos light small cans with fire on every ledge, wall and terrace of the village, creating an alluring setting and an unforgettable memory.
The culmination of the Holy Week comes on Holy Saturday when everyone seems to be in the streets, rushing to the churches for the Resurrection; come midnight, fireworks light up the sky and everyone holds a candle or a lantern. Watching all the fireworks displays on the island simultaneously is possible at the monastery of Profitis Ilias, where the panoramic views and tranquility of the locale are unsurpassable.
Meanwhile, throughout the Holy Week the preparation of traditional sweets and treats for the Easter fills the air with their mouth-watering fragrance; tsourekia, a fluffy brioche-like bread flavored with cardamom and mahleb, melitinia, the traditional Easter treat of Santorini made with mizithra cheese and honey, and wine cookies are just some of the tastes that will forever remind you of this glorious time of year, Easter on the island of Santorini.
Easter traditions in Santorini have their own unique charm, as unique as Santorini itself, and it is certain that an Easter vacation in Santorini will stay indelible in your heart forever.