Easter is an important celebration all over Greece but in Santorini traditional customs revive that period, making Easter even more popular. Preparations for Easter include white-washing the houses and yards, decorating the churches with flowers and cooking various delicacies. In particular, women bake tsourekia (brioches) and melitinia, the traditional Easter pastry of Santorini.
Of major interest is the Holy Week in Oia, where various services are held at the picturesque church of Panagia Platsani. In all villages of the island, there is a procession of the epitaph on Holy Friday. The epitaph is decorated with flowers and makes the round of the village.
In Pyrgos, tin lanterns are lit and placed along the maze like alleys and on the domed roof tops, reaching all the way to the Venetian castle, making the village visible from a great distance. According to the tradition, the sailors could see their village from far away at sea and in this way participate in the solemn proceedings.
In Fira, the two epitaphs meet in the central square. The beautifully preserved white streets are packed with locals holding lighted candles.
Then, on the eve of Easter Sunday, the Holy Resurrection is celebrated with spectaculair fireworks over the villages and bells ringing gloriously all around the island, while worshippers start leaving the churches with their candles lit and head home to have the traditional Easter soup and red-dyed eggs, which mark the end of their fasting.
Food is the center of Easter Sunday festivities, with delicious traditional tastes to enjoy, apart from the roast lamb -another symbol for the sacrifice of Christ.Preparations start in many households at the crack of dawn, but it’s worthwhile since the Easter meal is the culmination of all the festivities and brings families, even villages, together with lots of colorful singing and dancing that last till late in the afternoon. At Perissa the locals hang an effigy of Judas and shoot at it until it burns, while at the main square of Pyrgos the “trial of Judas” takes place, after which his effigy is burnt.