Best time to go to Athens

Holy Week & Orthodox Easter 2024

Festive traditions feature Lent mourning ceremonies, night candle lighting, and colored egg-cracking

Dates: April 28–May 5, 2024

Holy Week & Orthodox Easter
Holy Week & Orthodox Easter
Holy Week & Orthodox Easter

​No holiday in Greece can surpass Easter. The greatest religious celebration of the year offers a nice opportunity to experience its long-established traditions, starting with its special Lent menu and finishing with Easter specialties. A week before Easter, or Holy Week, is marked with daily events. It all begins with the Saturday of Lazarus, when the youngest Greeks go around their neighborhood singing the hymn of "Lazaros" at every house and in return get eggs and money.

Good Friday

Good Friday is a special day or rather a night when Athens and the whole country mourn the death of Jesus Christ with candlelight processions, imitating the funeral. The entire community is present: priests, cantors, altar boys, parishioners, and townspeople follow the bier of Christ ornated with flowers and carry burning candles and myrrh, scattering flowers and perfume. The most spectacular Greek procession takes place in Athens, on Lykabettus Hill. The procession, called , Epitaphios, starts from the church of Saint George Lycabettus at about 9 pm. People dressed in black follow the decorated wooden bier, symbolizing the coffin.

Holy Saturday

Saturday night is also quite impressive—this is the time of the mysterious Resur​rection Mass called Anastasi, when Christians gather in churches, and midnight darkness is broken by a solemn and special candlelight ceremony. Afterward, people launch fireworks and start celebrating. Don't miss the fireworks display over the Acropolis, accompanied by the bells of every church in Athens.

Athenian temples have a rich history and great architectural value, so they are worth visiting on Saturday night. Whitewashed Agios Georgios church (St. George), on Lycabettus is located on the top of a paved hill street. A candle procession is especially beautiful as the street gets illuminated with lights and dozens of fireworks are painting the sky red.

To see the Holy Fire, brought to Athens from the Holy Sepulchre church in Jerusalem, head to Agioi Anargyroi church on Erechtheos Street in Plaka. It is always the first to receive this mysterious flame, which symbolizes the victory of light over darkness.

Agia Irini (St. Irene), on Aiolou Street, is home to the famous Greek Byzantine choir, founded by Lykourgos Aggelopoulos. Ethiopian Coptic Church, at Polygono, is one of its kind. To enter the church you have to take off your shoes. Also, many Copts dress in white, which makes the scene around the church really beautiful. At the end of the church service, there is always a celebration accompanied by drums and other percussion instruments.

Easter Sunday

On Sunday, the streets of Athens are empty and silent. The main goal for you on this day is to get invited to a local household and join the merry celebration at the festive table with lots of roasted lamb, traditional dancing, and fireworks. Another amusing Easter tradition is coloring eggs with red paint and cracking them during the feast in a playful game, which is supposed to bring good luck to the winner.

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