Greek Easter in Kos and all you need to know about Greek Easter Bread
Easter is the biggest celebration of the Greek Orthodox Faith. Easter in Greece has numerous differences from the way it is celebrated to the rest of Europe.
There is no egg hunt, there is no shoulder of ham; the only thing in common may be chocolate Easter eggs!
Holy Week is special with church sermons every evening and is the peak of lent, where you are expected to fast even olive oil not to mention meat, fish and dairy.
This year of course is an exception due to the Covid_19 pandemic, and thus, the public will not be attending church. However, resisting the solemn mood of lock down mode, here we will revisit the highlights of Greek Easter at its best, so that we can prepare for the ones that are to come.
Despite lock down mode there are traditions that can be followed this year, offering a pleasant distraction and involving the whole family.
Dying of red eggs, for instance. A symbol of the blood of Christ, these are normally boiled and dyed on Holy Thursday [method follows]. There is a game that is played with these eggs, where you crack your red egg against someone else’s. Whoever has the strongest egg [one that doesn’t crack], well, they are the luckiest.
Sweet cookies that are called Koulouria is another staple for Easter, but the highlight is the twisted, sweet, Greek Easter Bread called Tsoureki. Many variations of this sweet delicacy exist but the traditional one is flavored with orange peel, mastic and mahalepi sprinkled with almond fillet.[recipe follows]
Good Friday, is the day that Jesus is mourned. The Epitaphio, a wooden replica of the tomb, is decorated with hundred of magnificent flowers and rose petals. It is carried out of the church, by pall bearers in a procession followed by worshippers, who carry list candles or small lanterns, singing beautiful lamentations.
On Holy Saturday, churches around Kos are filled with lilac flowers hand pick from the mountains, called Labres.
While the woman prepare for the evening dinner, after mass, young children prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, with a big bang!
Following a custom that dates back many years, they collect big keys, and with the use of rope, tie them with gunpowder and nail them to the wall, through the keyhole. On the evening of the Anastasi, they hit the keys on the wall, so hard that the gunpowder causes a bang that makes a lot of noise!
Holy Saturday mass takes place just before midnight and all lights in the church are put out, symbolizing the darkness of the tomb.
At the stroke of midnight, the priest comes forward with a lit candle [that has been flown in from Jerusalem] and lights the candle: this light is then spread among the congregation and so on until light fills the whole church. “Christos Anesti” is chanted among the congregation, which means “Christ has resurrected”.
Following the Anastasi mass, people head home to have a special meal, Magiritsa. It is a lemony tangy soup made up of shallots, dill and entrails. It is meant to make the transition from fasting easier.
Easter Sunday is a celebration meant to be spent outdoors in the beautiful surroundings of the Greek countryside!
Huge feasts are spread with music and dancing.
For Kos and the rest of the Dodecanese islands, stuffed lamb is on the menu for Easter Sunday. On mainland Greece, whole lambs are roasted on a spit under hot coals.
Lamb is the traditional meal as it symbolizes the sacrifice done by early Jews during their Passover and was then passed on to early Christians.
The lamb is basted in a mixture of oregano, salt, olive oil and lemon juice, brushed on by sprigs of oregano that are tied together and dipped in the marinade to brush on the lamb as it slowly cooks.
The stuffed lamb that is cooked in Kos, is filled either with rice or stale bread along with entrails and various herbs. It is accompanied by roast potatoes.
Various salads and numerous mezedes fill the Easter setting, among which is the very popular tzatziki: a yoghurt and garlic sauce. It is made of thick Greek yoghurt, with grated cucumber, garlic and dill.
Easter on Kos is full of colors, flavors and aromas, rich in Greek traditions. We look forward to celebrating in all the glory of the Greek countryside in the years to come. Until then we will #stay_safe #stay_strong so that we can enjoy such moments like these in the future.
Dyed Greek Easter Eggs
1 package red egg dye powder
6 cups warm water
1/3 of a cup vinegar
olive oil, for shinning
Follow the directions for the perfect red eggs and get ready for fun and games with the family.
Tsoureki – Greek Easter Bread
135g butter, from cow’s milk, at room temperature (4.7 oz.)
135g milk, at room temperature (4.7 oz.)
250g sugar (7 oz.)
4 medium eggs, at room temperature
870g bread flour (30 oz.)
21g dry yeast (0.7 oz.)
100g lukewarm water (3.5 0z.)
zest of 1 orange
1 egg and 1 tbsp water, for glazing the tsoureki
almond silvers for garnish
For the syrup
150g sugar (3.5 oz.)
150g water (3.5 oz.)
Discover the method to this sweet bread delicacy and impress your friends.