Perhaps nowhere in the world is Easter celebrated with more fervor and pageantry than Greece. In Greece, centuries-old Easter traditions are kept alive and respected by the younger generations. Because the Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar and the Catholic Church uses the Gregorian calendar, it’s not every year that Easter falls on the same date for both, 2017 happens to be one of the rare times this occurs.
We will arrive in Athens on Wednesday, April 12. The next day, Holy Thursday, the day of baking and the dyeing of boiled eggs to symbolize the renewal of life, we will depart for the Arcadia/Peloponissos region of Greece. For the next four days we will divide our time between Leonidio and the medieval fortress town of Monemvasia.
On the evening of Good Friday the streets of both towns are illuminated by thousands of oranges stuffed with candles. People with candles sing mourning songs while following the Epitaph around the village. Following the Good Friday procession of the Epitaph around the cobbled lanes is an unforgettable experience; the faithful join in the procession holding white candles; Easter hymns echo around the town creating a mystical atmosphere.
But the most impressive custom is on the evening of the Resurrection. The mass starts at 11pm and at midnight “Christ is Risen” is heard from the priest. Shortly thereafter, the sky is filled with thousands of brightly colored handmade aerostata (hot air balloons). The aerostata are set free to carry the prayers and hopes of the Resurrection as high as possible. The town’s five parishes compete with each other to release as many balloons as possible and keep them airborne for the longest period of time. The sight is nothing short of spectacular. As the balloons ascend to the heavens they look like stars before slowly disappearing one by one. Meanwhile, fireworks add to the entire spectacle.
The next morning people are up at dawn to prepare the lamb or goat ready to be roasted on a spit. There is a smell of barbecued meat all across the country, while families and friends prepare to enjoy a very large feast. Loud music and singing complete the high-spirited celebrations of a very traditional Greek Easter.
During the week after Easter Weekend celebrations become lively and loud. We will take our time returning to Athens, photographing in small towns and villages along the way.
Join Steve Anchell and native-born Greek photographer Popi Tsoukatou, for an unforgettable week of street and documentary photography while experiencing Easter in Greece.
Tuition includes: Transportation from Athens to Leonidio and Monemvasia; 8 nights stay in Greece; breakfasts at the hotels; welcome and farewell dinner; transportation via van or microbus; photography instruction by Steve Anchell and Popi Tsoukatou.
Not included: Airfare to Athens.