If you only get one chance in your lifetime to visit Corfu Greece, then it should definitely be during the Easter celebration. Corfu Easter is a unique religious experience, held each year with a glory and splendour not seen anywhere else in the world. Join the huge celebration, discover the unique rituals of the locals, and explore the beauty of Corfu in spring!
The Corfiot Easter begins on Palm Sunday, which this year falls on the 28th of April. The following week is Holy Week, when local people begin their shopping and other preparations for the Easter celebration. The Holy Week all throughout Greece is characterised by its church services, by fasting, and by the anticipation of the Resurrection. During the first days of the week, it would be a good idea to discover the Corfiot countryside, which is exceptionally beautiful on this time of year. But do not forget to return to Corfu Town for the climax of the Holy Week, which begins on Good Friday.
Good Friday is the day of Epitaphios, the funeral of Christ. All over Greece, churches bring out their own funeral bier and parade it around the parish. In Corfu however, the processions are even more imposing, with philharmonic orchestras and choirs participating in each one of them, while the presence of thousands of Corfiots as well as foreign visitors, give another dimension to the gravity of the occasion. The town processions start in the afternoon, and as the hours pass, more and more come out, until they all converge on each other in one majestic sight.
Easter Saturday is a really busy day, with much to see and experience. Wake up early and witness the amazing custom of the “earthquake”, which takes place at 6.00 am. in the church of Virgin Mary of Strangers. This is a re-enactment of the earthquake that happened after the Resurrection, as described in the Bible.
Whatever you do, don't miss the First Resurrection ceremony at 11:00. Thousands of clay pots filled with water are thrown from the balconies and smashed onto the streets below. This custom originates from the Venetians, who used to throw all their old and useless objects out of the window on January 1st each year, so that the New Year might bring them new ones. The Corfiots adopted this custom and moved it to their great Easter celebration. After the throwing of the pots the bands come out again and make their way through the narrow streets at a fast pace playing allegro marches.
At Pinia, the old commercial centre of the town, the custom of the 'mastelas' has been revived. A half-barrel decorated with myrtle and ribbons is filled with water, and passers-by are invited to throw coins into it for good luck. When the first bell sounds for the Resurrection, someone jumps into the barrel and collects up the money. In old times the diver was not a volunteer, but an unsuspecting passer-by who was randomly chosen and thrown in against his will.
And when the night comes, everybody gathers in the Main Square of Corfu, the Esplanade, to celebrate the Ressurection of Christ. The moment the clock strikes midnight, a lavish display of firework takes place, while drum roll echoes through the town. As soon as the fireworks finish everyone follows the bands through the old city, singing and greeting each other. In restaurants and tavernas, hotels and homes, families feast upon the traditional Mageiritsa (meat soup), fogatsa bread and columbines (Venetian cakes), and they crack the traditional red-dyed eggs.
On the morning of Easter Sunday there are church processions in the streets, parading the icon of the Resurrection of Christ. Nevertheless, for the locals Easter Sunday is more about the food. In Corfu, unlike the rest of Greece, the spit-roasted lamb is a recent introduction as a custom, and is not traditionally part of the Easter menu. Here they eat egg and lemon soup (avgolemono) at lunchtime, made with 2 or 3 different kinds of meat, and they leave the lamb for the next day.
Easter in Corfu, is much more than a religious holiday, and it can not easily be described in words. It is a once in a lifetime experience, and the only way to truly understand it, is to experience it yourself! Although Corfu accommodation during Easter period can be quite pricey, many hotels and apartments offer special Easter prices. Out top picks are:
Divani Corfu Palace in Corfu town
Bella Vista Hotel in Benitses
Irene Apartments in Agios Gordios
Find the ideal offer for you and enjoy your Easter Vacations in Corfu Greece!