Christos Anesti by Betty Pikoulas
Greek Orthodox Easter “Pascha” ..Is the most important celebration for all Greeks all over the world.It symbolises not only the celebrations and the feast but involves a period of preparation and mourning over a number of important days during the week that follows.This week is known as Holy Week “Megali Evdomada”.It is characterised by the great devoutness and strong faith Throughout the Holy Week people fast and do all the preparations needed until midnight on Holy Saturday when then fasting period breaks and the traditional feast starts.A series of services are held at least once a day representing the life of Christ at all churches and people attend to mourn and prayer till the end of the week when Christ was resurrected. The images are arranged by chronological order tracing the Holy week of Greek Orthodox Easter and were taken the exact day and time .
Ladies spend the day shopping for ingredience and Grandmothers recipe books containing generations of recipes is on the table ready for the preparation of the traditional desserts.
Grandmotherâ€™s recipe book
The traditional Easter Bread “Tsoureki” is baked.It’s sweet and soft based on flour,milk,sugar,eggs,yeast and butter.
The Easter Breads are kept home and are eaten after the fast ends. Some are given as a gift to friends and relatives.
Koulourakia are butter-based pastry biscuits that are usually made for the Easter celebrations.They have a sweet delicate flavour of vanilla and last for several days.
Traditionally hand-shaped with eggs and glaze on top. 15
They are made out of really thin dough sheets ,rolled into long ,thin strips ,folded and fried in hot oil.A dessert that demands a lot of experience. Diples is a dessert made in any celebration from Greek homewives.The word “Diples“ in greek means “folded“.
Dipped in to syrup and served to special guests .
Fasting The season of the Great Lent begins with Clean Monday and ends with Good Saturday. It lasts for 40 days before Easter and includes Holy Week.Holy Friday is kept as a strict fast day, as is Holy Saturday .
PALM SUNDAY Palm Sunday is the start of the Holy Week. In the morning, all churches offer palm leaves reminding the triumphal entering of Christ in Jerusalem before the Passion. We are aloud to eat fish. Just to find the strength to continue the fasting for another six days.
Services at church include a symbolic representation of the crucifixion and the period of mourning begins.Women and men will sit in the church throught the night in traditional mourning.
These services are characterised by the great devoutness and strong faith.
The first three days of the Holy Week people attend to kiss the icon of Christ and prayer all evening.
HOLY THURSDAY EVENING Holy Thursday represents the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. During the ceremony people that arrive at the church and at the end kiss the icon of Jesus on the cross showing the deep sorrow and sadness.
HOLY FRIDAY MORNING Traditionally women and young children take flowers to the church and spend hours decorating the symbolic bier of Christ “Epitafios”
HOLY (GREAT) FRIDAY
The most sacred day of Holy Week.It is a day of mourning.Purple flags are hung in the church and the church bells ring all day in a slow mournful tone.The church bells ring the death knell all morning. A service is held for Christ’s funeral. Today is a day of rest for women and men. At dusk the “Epitafio” is paraded around the church’s streets with a quiet processon in tow. This is a sombre parade.
The icon on the bier represents Christ after he has been removed from the cross and people throughout the evening go and kiss the icon.
The Service of Lamentation mourns the death of Christ and the bier,decorated with flowers and bearing the images of Christ is carried on the shoulders of the faithful in a procession through the church to the cemetery and back.People follow carrying candles.
The ceremonies last over five hours but the passion and faith of the people attending will make them stay till the end.
When the bier is returned to the churched itâ€™s held on the shouldrs of young men outside the entry of the church.Everyone will pass under to show respect and to be blessed.
On the morning of Holy Saturday ,preparations begin for the next days feast. Men buy the lamb and meat that will be put on the spit and rwady to be cooked on Easter Sunday. Nothing is wasted from the Easter lamp, even the intestines, liver, lungs, lights and kidneys are packed with herbs and roasted to form a huge kebab called â€˜kokoretsiâ€™.
The Midnight Easter Service & The Resurrection - Saturday Night
The midnight Service at the church is an occasion attened by everyone,including children , each lighting and holding a white candle.
Before midnight all lights of each church are turned off and the priest appears at the Royal Door offering the Holy Light to everyone’s candle. He says “defte lavete fos” that means come and take the Holy Light. This unique flame comes directly from the Holy Grave of Christ in Jerusalem and it lights miraculously without any human involvement. It is bought by a military jet and is carried by the priests to the local church. The priest passes the Holy Flame to the people in church,all candles are lit and symbolize Christ’s victory over death and hope.
Special candles are made for Easter , â€œLabathaâ€? , and are given as a gift to the kids from their Godparents.
“Christos Anesti” is relayed to one an other on Saturday midnight to be responed “Alithos Anesti” to symbolise Christ breaking from the tomb and been risen. The people take their lit candles home and make the sign of a cross with the black from the candle flame in the doorway of their homes before entering and the house is blessed for the year.
The women dye eggs red on Holy Thursday during the day.The deep red symbolises the blood of Christ and the new life.
The red eggs are placed on the Easter table on Saturday night. The tradition is the game called tsougrisma (knocking eachother).Each person takes a red egg and they tap their eggs against the end of each others egg.The persons egg that hasnâ€™t been cracked at the end is the winner.
Family and friends gather at their homes to break the fast with a midnigth feast , the traditional â€œMagiritsaâ€? ,meat soup.This symbolises the break of the fasting period.
Easter Sunday Feast
This day is dedicated to eating and celebrating! Early on Easter Sunday the spits are set to work.
The preparation of the Bread that is served on Easter Sunday is considered a holy tradition in homes and ensures the blessing of the home in the year to come.
Families and friends meet up for the big celebration party with food , wine , music and dancing all day long.
The celebrations finish late at night..Everyone is tired and still happy to take the final photo of the day.
Acknowledgement Documenting and designing this book has been a wonderful experience. I would like to express my gratitude to my family ,friends and the people that i met throughout this journey for supporting my work .For allowing me and trusting me to document this important celebration moments and include them in this book. I would like to thank Pater Mina (the priest of the church) for allowing me to photograph in the first Greek church that was built in Victoria â€œEvagelismosâ€œ ,aged over 100 years.That made my project more unique and special. And a big thank you to my teachers Robert Gale , Jessie Diblasi and Bill Burrows from RMIT University for assigning me with this book project.For advising and helping me with the procedures and the design.
Design / Layout / Photography : Betty Pikoulas ÂŠ 2014