Greek Orthodox Easter is probably the longer celebration of the year for most of Greeks and includes many special traditions and many family gatherings.

When is the Greek Orthodox Easter?

The easy, straight forward answer to this is Sunday, 19th of April 2020. However, this date changes every year as Greeks are orthodox christians and base their Easter date on the Julian calendar, which often differs from the Gregorian calendar that is used by many western countries. That means that usually the Orthodox Easter period often occurs later than the Catholic one.

Most of the times, that is 1 to 4 weeks later but once every 4 years Orthodox Easter coincides with easter in western countries and fall exactly in the same date.

So how do Greeks celebrate Easter?

Easter preparations begin, in fact, from Clean Monday(Καθαρή Δευτέρα): Greeks celebrate “Clean Monday”, which is the last day of the Apostles and the first of the fasting period. On that day people say “Good Lent!”, With 40 days left to start the Great Week (the week before Easter Sunday).

Clean Monday

This is the first day of the lent for christian orthodox in Greece and it is full of customs and …food!

Following the Clean Monday day, we have according to Christian orthodox religion a period which is called “Sarakosti” and its 40 days of fasting.

This in Greece is usually being followed by people that are deeply religious, but there are also those who find it a good opportunity to do a detox diet. The Sarakosti fasting begins on a clean Monday and ends on Good Saturday.

The Great Lent (Sarakosti) is a Christian period of fasting. It is the oldest of the great fasts of the Orthodox Church and it was established in the 4th century AD. It initially lasted six weeks and later the seventh week was added. It is called “Lent” because it covers forty days of fasting, that is, from Holy Monday to Friday before Lazarus’ Saturday, followed by the Sabbath and the Holy Week. “Great” Lent is called not for its great duration but for its importance in remembrance of the Passion of Christ. It is the preparation of believers for the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. In fact, along with Holy Week, it is a five-day period.

What does the fasting diet include:

  • Meat, fish, dairy, oil and wine are prohibited.
  • In Saturdays and Sundays a bit of oil and wine can be added as a small exception.
  • On March 25th the Greek national holiday and Sunday of the Feast (Κυριακή των Βαιών) , those fasting can eat fish.

Obviously that varies from people nowadays and many just try to not eat meat at that time. Thats why, contrary to what many believe, Greece has a variety of vegetarian dishes that people who want to fast can have during these days

Boiled Greens
Boiled Greens or Horta. Typical Greek dish served as a salad or an appetizer

Check out some of the articles we have related to Greek orthodox Easter and learn more about Greece and what you can do during this time of the year.

Most importantly what you can eat!

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Traditionally, all Greeks go to church during Great Saturday, and they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Afterwards according to the custom they return home, where a hot Magirtsa soup is waiting for them.

Want to know how you cook it?

Magiritsa the traditional Easter Soup

Every easter as a tradition, all the Greeks eat a classic soup made of lamb offal. Learn why it is so popular and delicious!

Greek Easter Photo Gallery

Check out all the other articles on the blog