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What to wear to Easter Sunday Dinner?

We will be spending Easter Sunday dinner with a Cretan family and, although I know it is a BBQ of sorts, I don't know how casual the dresscode would be.

Also, what would be an appropriate gift for the host and hostess?

Happy Easter in Crete!


You will have a lovely time at this celebration. In the Greek year, Easter is the most important celebration, much bigger than Christmas, and is celebrated across the whole period with wonderful traditions.

So although it is a BBQ is it the biggest family gathering of the year, for westerners the equivalent of Christmas lunch. Depending if the family lives the village or the city, the best dressing suggestion we can give you is ‘smart casual’ evening wear. Take a wrap or something in case it gets cooler as the night could be a long (and enjoyable) one! Pace yourself!

The best idea of what to take to your host and hostess is the Easter cake or tsoureki and Easter biscuits koulouria. The Easter cake is a big sweet bread cake with the red egg in the centre.

A nice way to do this is to find your local bakery and go and choose one Easter cake and some of the Easter biscuits and they will pop them into a beautifully wrapped box. So make plenty of time on the Sunday morning to go off and do this – because it is the busiest morning at the bakery. The bakery is called zacharoplasteio. Tell the bakery staff it is a gift doro and they will understand and help you out.

A little bit about Greek Easter...

Easter Sunday for Greeks is based on the Julian calendar as opposed to the Gregorian calendar upon which non-orthodox Christian cultures base their Easter.

Originally this day was set by the Autumn Equinox, and Easter falling on the first Sunday following the first full moon on or after the Autumn equinox.

Greeks may fast for seven weeks before Easter, commencing on Kathari Deftera Clean/pure Monday. On the evening of Easter, Greeks will go to their church for a night time mass where they will then follow an effigy of Christ around the block or neighborhood of the Church. Candles will be held by all as they make this procession, which then returns to the Church.

After this ritual, Greeks will gather at a family members house for a feast. Lamb roasted on the spit is the most traditional meat dish, and you will see a profusion of coloured boiled eggs, mostly red in colour. Some eggs will be wrapped in a stocking with a leaf from a bay tree (or other types of leaves) held close to the egg. Once dyed, the pattern of the leaf is left on the egg. People will have egg cracking competitions with these eggs, the victor said to have good luck for the year.

When meeting friends on or after midnight on Easter night, the first to speak will say Hristos anesti which means 'Christ has risen', the response to this is Alithos anesti which means 'he truly has risen'.

In Crete, Cretans can still be found to have large bonfires where all gather wood, sticks and branches. The bonfire is to burn the effigy of Judas Iscariot, but also a remnant of the pre-Christian Pagan equinox bonfires.

Easter is the Anastasi - the resurrection. This is where the name Anastasia and Anastasi come from. My brother is named Anastasi. This traditionally is the name day celebration as well as Easter celebration for those with this name.

All in all, this is a very festive time for Greeks, where fasting is followed with great feasting and celebration and people gather at families homes, often having a meal at the home of one side of the family, followed by another feast at the other side of the family. Hard work, but somebody has to do it!

by Apostolis from the We Love Crete Team

Kalo Pasca! Καλό Πάσχα

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