Easter is coming and Athens is getting ready. The almond trees are getting showy with their pink blossoms, the streets are perfumed with neroli and incense wafting from church windows, and the shops are putting up fairytale window displays: a rainbow of Easter candles called lambathes suspended from the ceilings, butterfly wings, dyed eggs,rabbits and chicks in tin foil and pastel fuzz.
Easter is for Greece what Christmas is for the majority of the Western world- driven by ceremony, gratitude, and the spirit of generosity. The week between Palm Sunday and Easter is called “Great Week;” each day is significant and those who are deeply involved with the Orthodox traditions will follow a strict set of observations to prepare themselves for the holy day of the Resurrection.
For travelers who are driven by an intense curiosity to experience the ways of others, there’s no better time to come to Athens than Holy Week. This month I’ll be continuing to cover seasonal specialties brought out only this time of the year and we’ll dig deeper into the sometimes mysterious, ofttimes moving traditions surrounding Easter in Greece, such as the procession of the epitafios to Syntagma and the arrival of the Holy Fire in Plaka. You’ll find out where to be if you want to see it all for yourself and get a few cultural tips on how to blend in with the natives.