It’s a Family Affair…
The traditions of Greek Orthodox Easter
Happy Easter…. (καλό Πάσχα –kaló Páscha)
The preparation before Easter Sunday.
The house is cleaned inside and out, then a cross made from rosemary branches and is hung on the front door to bless the home and all who dwell within.
Koulourakia a traditional Greek biscuit and Tsoureki is a sweet bun bread is prepared and baked by the women in the family as well as across the village. They come together to make the Koulourakia and Tsoureki, which can take a day or two depending on the quantity needed. This is seen as a coming together for the women, both young and old, for each woman has a specific task to perform. It also a means of passing down such traditions to the next generation, as each family has a method and set of ingredients for these savouries that differ.
As with the baking, presentation of the savouries differs from family to family. Generally, the savouries are placed on a platter in the middle of the largest table with candles, accompanied by red dyed hard-boiled eggs and more western recognised chocolate Easter eggs.
Late Saturday night everyone heads to the church, it’s here that the priest will light a single candle to represent the flame of Jesus Christ and from the candle the families will light a candle to take home (very carefully). With this flame they will burn the sign of the cross in their home to bless the family.
The hard-boiled eggs are selected by everyone present and traditionally you crack your egg on the egg of the person seated next to you. Whomever that’s left with an un-cracked egg is said to have good luck for the coming year.
After the eggs have been cracked, they all sit down to a traditional soup called magiritsa, it’s made with green vegetables, onion, lettuce, and various spices. This is all boiled together along with the offal from the lamb that will be roasted for Sunday dinner.
The main focus of Greek Orthodox Easter is Sunday lunch, this is when the family or even the whole village comes together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At dawn (or earlier), the spits are prepared and grills are fired up. The customary main attraction of the day is whole roasted lamb or goat to represent the Lamb of God, however, some prefer oven and stove top lamb these days.
After lunch the Koulourakia and Tsoureki are served with Coffee or tea which is the relax time for the whole family.
Recipes for Koulourakia and Tsoureki can be found online, there are many recipes from different regions of Greece, try one that takes your fancy, but here’s a good one to start with.
Link to a recipe:
Koulourakia (Κουλουράκια) | Taking the guesswork out of Greek cooking…one cup at a time (miakouppa.com)
© Caroll Sims – ISET Institute
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