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Easter in Crete

The major celebration for the Orthodox Church is Pascha, the Greek Easter. This is celebrated normally after the Roman Easter, due to the use of different calendars for determining this feast’s date. The Orthodox Easter is an excellent time to be in Crete as the weather is usually very good, with moderate temperatures, and only a slight possibility of rain. Nature is at its most verdant and the green fields, wild flowers, blue skies and sea, and snow-capped mountains all combine to present magnificent scenery.
During Holy Week (Megali Evdomada) there are long evening church services attended by large crowds. Good Friday is especially colourful, since the Epitaphi, the funeral bier, is carried through the streets around the parish boundaries. In the cathedrals of the cities this procession is accompanied by soldiers and music and the Epitaphi is followed by the priests and the bishop of the area. On Holy Saturday night there is the Liturgy of the Anastasi (Resurrection). Just before midnight the lights are extinguished and the people and the priests move outside to continue the liturgy. At the moment of the Resurrection, the Easter Candle is lit (representing Christ as the light of the world) and the flame is passed from person to person to light their individual candles. The children have colourful candles, traditionally given to them by their godfathers. The priest sings, "Christos Anesti"-- "Christ has Risen" -- and the people respond, "Alithos Anesti"-- "He has truly Risen". This is followed by hugging and the exchange of best wishes. Each family takes the light back to the house, where a cross is then marked on the doorway with the flame and a feast is waiting. Two of the traditional foods eaten on this night are "magiritsa", a soup made from lamb liver, and hard-boiled eggs dyed red. On Easter Sunday there is another liturgy at noon, but many people have already started their "souvla", lamb barbecued on a spit, and all the sweets being offered now that Lent is over.