A Greek Easter
Before midnight on Saturday evening, Christian Greek Orthodox faithful gather at the local church for a moonlight resurrection service. In complete darkness, the families wait with oversized unlit candles until the priest takes light from the vigil light and passes it to the faithful. The priest sings: “Come ye and receive light from the unwaning light, and. glorify Christ, who arose from the dead”, and all the people join him in singing this hymn again and again. The faithful protect the candlelight as a symbol of their vivid, deep faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as Savior. In many churches the priest leads the people outside the church, where he reads the Gospel which refers to the Angels statement: “He is Risen; He is not here,”.
Easter is the about the the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the fundamental truth and absolute fact of the Christian faith. For Christians, Easter is the celebration Jesus Christ’s return to life after his crucifixion and the most important day of the year. His return from death is called the Resurrection.
The people then exchange the words “Christos Anesti” (pronounced Ah-nai-stee) and “Alithos Anesti” which mean “Christ has risen” and “Christ has risen, indeed”.
Following the service, the people head home while carefully protecting the candle flame. Before entering the home, the head of the household motions his or her candle under the frame of the front door in a cross pattern, leaving behind the faint mark of a cross.
A late meal follows that features a very thick and filling traditional Easter soup called “Magiritsa” (Ma-gee-ree-tsa). Typically it is composed of lamp flavored with seasonings and sauces and it is prepared along with the traditional red-colored hard-boiled eggs. It is eaten to break the fast of the Greek Orthodox Great Lent, the 40 days before Easter. Before heading off to bed each member of the family selects one colored hard-boiled egg from the previously prepared batch and challenge each other in a game called “tsougrisma” (translation : when one object collides with another).
Each player holds a red egg, and one taps the end of his or her egg lightly against the end of the other player’s egg trying to crack the opponent’s egg. It can be said that each player has two “lives”. When one end is cracked, the winner uses the same end of his or her egg to try to crack the other end of the opponent’s egg. There can be one survivor and that player is predicted to have a good luck during the year. And with that, I wish you all a Happy Easter.
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