This time last year Janet and I were sailing across the Aegean from Athens, destination Patmos in the Dodecanese Islands. Our very good friend and skipper, Jonathon Chandler, had promised us an interesting experience as we followed the traditional Greek Orthodox celebrations over the three days of Easter.
The 100 mile crossings in gale force winds and heavy seas were certainly ‘interesting’ and the Easter celebrations in Patmos didn’t disappoint either. The festivities start in sombre tone at dusk on Good Friday, as Christ’s bier (a mock coffin decorated with flowers) is carried ceremoniously through the streets. The accompanying flares and firecrackers create an unforgettable spectacle.
Throughout the build up there are numerous church ceremonies and a period of fasting, reaching a climax at midnight on Saturday evening when, during long and intense services in every church, Christ is declared to have risen. The celebrations and fireworks take over, accompanied by feasting and dancing….and more firecrackers.
A light-hearted tradition is that hard boiled eggs are dyed red, to symbolise Christ’s blood, and then bashed together in a top and tail family table game at mealtimes. The winner is the person whose egg is still intact at the end of the challenges. All good fun.