Greek Easter is one of the most important religious celebrations in Greece’s annual calendar. And it’s even more special in Corfu with an array of traditional customs that have been faithfully preserved over the years.
We invite you to come and live this experience with us at MarBella Nido!
The Resurrection Liturgy will take place in the hotel Chapel “Saint Spyridon”. You will be offered Easter candles to use during the service. After “Christ has Risen” and candles have been lit, the traditional cracking of red eggs begins and that is followed by the Resurrection Dinner with a traditional Greek Easter menu, accompanied by live Greek music.
Easter Sunday offers BBQ from 11:30 onwards at outdoor area, where all guests are invited to join in the festive atmosphere with ouzo, wine and traditional delicacies. Weather permitting, preparations for the traditional Easter Meal begin at the outdoor area with the traditional Greek roast lamb on a spit followed by Easter Festive Lunch with live music.
While in Corfu during the Greek Holy Week don’t miss the religious services starting on Palm Sunday with the Litany of the Seventh Camp of St. Spyridon, a procession that has taken place since 1630 in memory of the liberation of the island from the terrible disease of the plague that in 1629 afflicted the people of Corfu. This Litany is the largest, and 18 Philharmonic Orchestras of the Island take part.
On Holy Thursday, you can join in the dress rehearsals of three of the island’s most notable Philharmonic orchestras at 8pm.
On Good Friday the procession of Epitaphs begins in the early afternoon. Starting with the church of St George at 2 pm it in the Old Fortress. The processions continue until 9.30pm, with the Epitaphs coming out of every church accompanied by the orchestras, choirs, and the little girls with flower baskets, full of the colourful and fragrant flowers found in Corfu at this time of year.
At 10.00pm in the evening, the last Epitaph of the Diocese comes out for its procession. Majestic with the philharmonic orchestras, the great choir of the Diocese, the schools, the sacred clergy and the local authorities in attendance. Following the tradition, the “Old” Philharmonic (dressed in red) plays Albinoni’s Adagio, the “Mantzaros” orchestra (dressed in blue) plays Marcia Funebre by Verdi while the “Kapodistrias” orchestra plays the “Sventura” by Mariani and Chopin’s mourning march.
On Holy Saturday the re-enactment of an artificial earthquake is a long-standing tradition for the Church of Panagia ton Xenon. It takes place on the morning of Holy Saturday at 6.00am. It is a representation of the earthquake described in the Holy Gospel, as a subsequent triumphant event of the Resurrection of the Lord.
At 9.00am, the procession of the Epitaph of the church of St Spyridon starts. In 1574, the Venetians forbade the Orthodox to carry the Epitaph on Good Friday and so the people of Corfu have since performed the Litany of this Epitaph together with the Seventh Shrine of the Saint on Saturday. Holy Saturday is the oldest and most comprehensive Litany that comes out in memory of the miracle of the Saint, who saved the people of Corfu from the wheat famine. The procession moves rhythmically under the mournful sounds of the three city philharmonic orchestras.
Enjoy the sounds of the mourning procession of the Italian composer Franco Faccio from the opera “Amleto” by the “Old” Philharmonic, the “Calde Lacrimae” (Hot Tears) by C. De Michelis played by the “Mantzaros” orchestra and the Kapodistrias march from Beethoven’s “Heroic Accord” played by the orchestra bearing the same name.
At 11am, on Holy Saturday morning, it’s time for the “first” Resurrection. At the end of the service at the Diocese, the church bells ring and thousands of clay pots are dropped in celebration from the windows of Corfiot houses onto the streets with a loud bang. Another Corfiot Easter custom that is revived every year is the Mastelo (barrel). In “Pinia” and under the metal Koukounara that hangs still in the intersection of Nikiforos Theotokis and the Philharmonic street, the Fakinos, the porters of the city, gathered with the Piniadors, who used to place a wooden barrel in the middle of the sidewalk. They would decorate it with myrtles and verde, poured water on it and would then ask the passers-by to make a wish while throwing a coin in the water. When the time of the first Resurrection was approaching, the Piniadors would scatter in the area of Piatsa to find someone that would be happy to be thrown inside the barrel. He would then soak all the people around him, while the city’s bands would pass by, playing the cheerful “Do not be afraid Greeks”. In the end, he would come out of the barrel with laughter and joy and take the money that had been thrown in.
On Holy Saturday evening, the Resurrection service takes place in the Upper Square and is a truly extraordinary, unique spectacle. All the windows of the surrounding houses are open with lighted candles. They together with the amazing spectacle of the thousands of lighted candles held by the faithful who watch the Resurrection ceremony in the largest square of Greece, compose a magnificent image. The Resurrection service continues at the Holy Temple of Agia Paraskevi.
At midnight, as soon as “Christ is Risen” is heard, colourful fireworks adorn the Corfiot skies creating a true spectacle under the sounds of the Philarmonic orchestras of the island playing the “Don’t be afraid Greeks” march, associated with the 19th century Greek revolution against the Ottoman empire.
On Easter Sunday from 7am every church, as is the case with the Epitaphs, celebrates the Resurrection of the Christ with the Philharmonic orchestras as well as the schools, scouts, choirs of the city. At noon, the Corfu Naval Station in the New Fortress, continuing the long tradition, offers fun and joy with traditional Greek dancing performances and plenty of mouth-wateringlocal delicacies. At 6.30pm, the Litany of the Holy Trinity in Garitsa is held with the same formality.