Top 3 Greek Easter Island Destinations
Greece slowly comes out of hibernation during the Easter holidays. It is arguably the most important celebration in the Greek calendar, and Greeks do take their celebrations seriously. So it’s no surprise to find that celebrations vary from town to town. Mainland Greece and the islands offer different sensations. However, the theme stays the same. The church sees attendance swell during Orthodox Easter, with pilgrims coming from far and wide to pay tribute.
Much like Catholic Easter, the order of the day includes processions and cavalcades with ornate chariots festooned with flowers. It is a somber affair.
Accordingly, the events and customs are filled with a sense of subdued joy. But, as with any Greek affair, the fun centers around the food and the activities involved.
The best way to enjoy a Greek Easter is to go to the source. Travel to an island, when the winter rain has settled and the green canopy is even lusher. It is another world.
In Syros for instance, something unique happens. Due to the fact that Syros was occupied by the Venetians during the Ottoman years, it lived the Renaissance, and so a large Catholic contingent still call s it home. Several Catholic churches and a few Orthodox ones celebrate together. It is probably moot to point out that Syros is a cosmopolitan island with an identity slightly different to other islands, or Greece, for that matter. Being the administrative center of the Cyclades means it has a larger all year round population than most. But the fact that the two dogmas celebrate together feels intrinsically right. There is something reassuring in that.
Patmos on the other hand is nothing if not Biblical. This is the island where St. John wrote the Apocalypse. As far as spirituality goes, only Jerusalem can compare. On Easter Sunday, the liturgy is read out in seven different languages, at the monastery of St. John. A pilgrimage to his cave is paramount to truly get a feel of the place.
A little closer to Athens, is Spetses; the home of legendary resistance fighter and admiral Bouboulina. Its proximity to Athens is only rivalled by the pageantry it displays. Processions and the epitafios get paraded across the harbor in style. The real treat is reserved for Monday, though. Monday sees the burning of a Judas effigy by the oldest weapon on the island. This tradition is only half kept, as in true Greek style, everyone and anyone with a pistol can take aim and watch it burn.
Greece certainly transcends the norm. In a land so ancient, traditions are what keep everyone together. From the sublime to the utterly surreal, Greece is always keeping it real.