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Greek Easter Sunday : from 2004 until 2023
Greek Easter does not always fall on the same date as what most countries knows as "Easter" because the Eastern Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar when calculating Easter ...

Greek Easter Sunday  

Greek Orthodox Church & National Holidays in Greece

New Year's Day 'Protochronia'
Following a morning church ceremony presents are exchanged, and there is singing, dancing, and feasting. A special cake, called a vassilopita, is baked with a coin inside. The person who eats the piece with the coin will have a year of good luck. The traditional New Year greeting is "Kali Chronia."

Epiphany 'Agia Theofania'
Epiphany is the celebration of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (St. John). The day is marked by blessing the waters. Around the country rivers, lakes and oceans are blessed and crosses immersed in them. The largest celebration is in Piraeus where a cross is thrown into the sea and young men dive to retrieve it.

Independence Day and the Feast of the Annunciation (Evaggelismos)
On March 25 in 1821 the Bishop of Patra, Germanos, began the uprising that started the War for Independence. Today it is celebrated with military parades in most major cities. Independence Day also coincides with the religious Feast of the Annunciation, so it is also a religious festival.

Labour Day : May Day 'Protomayia'
On this national holiday it is traditional for people to go to the countryside, have picnics, gather flowers, and make them into wreaths for their homes. Many flower festivals take place all over the country.

Ash/Shrove/Clean Monday (Koulouma) ' Kathari Deftera'
The first day of Lent, which is 40 days before Easter. On Ash Monday, it is traditional to go the countryside for a picnic, fly kites, and begin fasting for Easter by eating Lenten food.

Holy Good Friday 'Megali Paraskevi' 'Epitaphios' Lamentations
The festivities begin on Good Friday with perifora epitaphios, a candlelit procession of a shrouded funeral bier that is carried through the city streets to the local church. Every major city and tiny town in Greece has their own procession, although the most impressive one takes place in Athens where the procession climbs Lykabettus to the Chapel of Agios Georgios.

Holy Good Saturday The Resurrection
' Megalo Savvato'
On Holy Saturday there is a Resurrection Mass at 11 p.m. followed at midnight by darkness symbolizing Jesus passing through the underworld, and finally by fireworks and a candle light procession through the streets symbolizing Jesus's resurrection.
The Lent fast is broken by eating red-dyed eggs and mageiritsa soup.

Holy Easter Sunday ' Kyriaki tou Pascha'

Easter Sunday is spent with the family, singing, dancing, and feasting on roast lamb and red eggs. The greeting for the day is Christos Anesti "Christ is risen!" and the reply is Alithos Anesti "Yes He is truly risen!".

Whit Monday 'Agiou Pnevma'
Fifty days after Easter. This religious holiday marks the descent of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. It is celebrated with church services decorated with pennants. Greeks use this holiday to go away for a long weekend, usually to the Greek islands.

Assumption of the Virgin 'Apokimisis tis Panagias'

Assumption Day falls within the traditional Greek vacation month when Greeks are normally on the move. So typically crowded ferries and buses become even more packed near the holiday as people travel to be near their families.
This is the largest celebration of the Holy Virgin Mary in Greece. The island of Tinos is a major pilgrimage destination for thousands go to be blessed, healed or baptized.

Oxi Day 'Ohi Day'
During World War II, Mussolini issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Metaxas demanding free Italian passage through Greece. Metaxas' response was "Ohi" which led to the subsequent battle and eventual defeat of the invading Italian army in 1940. Today, Ohi Day is celebrated with remembrance services, military parades, folk dancing, and feasting.

Christmas 'Christougenna'

Although less important that Easter in the Greek Orthodox religion, Christmas is celebrated with religious services & feasting. Today there is considerable western influence with Christmas trees, decorations, and presents. Throughout the Christmas season children go door to door singing Christmas carols. A small gratuity is customary.

Gathering of the Virgin's Entourage 'Synaxis tis Panagias'

Similar to Boxing Day in England and Canada, the day following Christmas is a national holiday.


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