Easter on Folegandros

  • Naxos 1993

This information regarding Easter celebration on Folegandros Island are divided in three different sections:
o Introduction
o Tradition
o Photos
The photos are divided in four folders:
* Preparation
* Good Friday
* Easter Sunday (Resurrection Day)
* Tuesday (Last day of procession)

On many places throughout Greece traditional and extensive Easter festivities take place, and Fol├ęgandros is one of these places. Many Greeks return here every year to take part in the traditions and celebrations. Later years also tourists, as they call “non-Greeks”, have discovered the excitement and dedication of this tradition.

A little before Easter preparations take place. Houses, churches, squares and streets are white washed, various pies are baked. The best room in the house is cleaned and decorated to be prepared for the Icon procession.

On Good Friday the flower decoration of the bier of Christ, Epitaphios, can be viewed in St. Nicholas church, Dounavi Square. Later on Friday evening around 9 PM the Epitaphios is carried around Chora in a procession.

During Saturday further preparations take place, such as preparation for the Sunday morning (midnight) green soap, based on intestines of the lamb, which will be used for the traditional roasted lamb dinner during Sunday.

Late Saturday evening, before it turns into Sunday, many is gathered outside St. Nicholas church for a ceremony. Everybody is carrying a candle. At midnight the priest announces that Christ is risen from the dead, and the candles are lit from his and then from each other. The church bells start to ring, extensive fire works go off; it’s an extreme light and sound celebration. Saturday has turns in to Sunday, the day of resurrection. People walks back to their homes with the lit candle, and the traditional meal with thick green soap, margeritsa, take place. After the food many people, especially the younger, continues the celebration at some bar in the centre, listening to traditional Greek music.

Easter Sunday morning the silver-ornamented icon of Virgin is carried from Panaghia church on the hilltop, down to Chora. The procession stops at most houses, hotels and pensions. Believers kiss the icon and cross one self. The hosts of the home, hotel and so on, offer the worshippers of the procession something to drink and eat. It varies from snacks and cookies all the way to complete dinners and cooked food of all kind, and not to forget wine. The procession carries on until late afternoon.

At sundown after that all houses have been blessed, the icon is handed over to the people of Ano Meria. In Chora the celebration continues in various way, for instance with singing and dancing in private homes.

Easter Monday the icon is taken from Church of St. George and is moved around the area from early in the morning. Similar routines as in Chora take place, the procession is accompanied by rifle shots and firecrackers, and housewives have prepared food and drink for the worshippers following the icon. In the afternoon the icon is taken back to Chora and stays the night in Church of Pantanassa, in the Kastro.

Tuesday morning around 9 AM the procession takes the icon from the church and head for Petousis, a small settlement about 2 km south of Chora. From there the procession continues to Livadi along footpaths. Later the procession reaches Karavostassis, the village by the harbour. Besides taken to the houses, the icon also is carried on to all boats. Soon the three-day procession of the icon of the Virgin is over. It ends when the icon is taken back to Chora and then returned to the Church of Virgin (Panaghia) on the hilltop above Chora, where the icon stays until next Easter.

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