Easter in Greece is a really distinctive celebration, independent of whether you're an Orthodox Christian, religious or not. Spring is making itself manifest in all its glory, the weather is making people more cheerful and outgoing and families are getting together to celebrate one of the few traditions that still stands strong in this country. And although most people prefer to leave the cities for the country-side (usually going back to their old, family house in the village/small-town they descend from) you still get the feeling of Easter if you stay in Athens.
For one, streets will look much emptier during the Holly Week of Easter as people gradually drip out of the big city. The central food market at Aiolou Street is full of people doing their holiday shopping and churches are full of people, unlike most other days of the year.
The Epitaph procession takes place in the evening of Good Friday and is followed by large numbers of people holding candles and listening to the hymns of a church choir that accompanies the Cross and the bier (symbolic of the Tomb of Christ) which is adorned with flowers.
This year we attended the epitaph procession in the central Athens church of Aghios Georgios Karitsi, at Plateia Karytsi (Karytsi Square). The epitaph made a procession in some of Athens central streets (Christou Lada, Stadiou, Syntagma Square, Ermou, Voulis, Kolokotroni, Praxitelous) - at moments we could see other processions, from other churches, moving down Panepistimiou St. and across Syntagma Sq.- to return to Plateia Karytsi where the priest made a short speech and the band played the Greek national anthem for the people to disperse. The pictures below will hopefully give you a small glimpse of the whole thing.
|Acolytes, the Holy Cross and the Bier leaving the church, as the procession starts|
|Aghios Georgios Karytsi - Epitaph procession in Athens city center|
|Flower adorned bier - Epitaphios procession of Saint George Karytsi, Athens, Greece|
|The bier is leaving the church - Epitaph procession at Aghios Georgios Karitsi, Athens, Greece|
|Band, acolytes with the Holy Cross and choir - Epitaph procession along Stadiou St., Athens, Greece|
|Good Friday epitaph procession in Athens city centre (Stadiou St. & Syntagma Sq.), Athens, Greece|
|Priest making a short speech outside St. George Karitsi, after the end of the epitaphios procession on Good Friday, Athens, Greece|
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