Discover traditions and unearth the best things to do in Santorini during Easter
In Greece, Easter is probably the most religious and meaningful holiday of the year. Whether you’re religious or not, the sentiment and customs that define the Greek Orthodox Holy Week in Santorini will stir and fill you with emotions. With fasting customs dating back in time, candle-lit processions, lambs twirling on a spit, and midnight fireworks, Easter in Santorini is not to be missed. Continue reading to learn more about Santorini’s Easter wonders, which should be on any “culture buff’s” itinerary while visiting the island.
The Easter Preparations
The Holy Week in Santorini is a period full of aromas and flavors. It is the final week of the religious 40-day fast, during which the locals abstain from meat, eggs, dairy products, and even olive oil. This is why they spend the entire week cooking their particular delicacies and traditional dishes for Easter. Then, the preparations for the Resurrection festivities begin.
Tsoureki, melitini and traditional delicacies
Easter brioche, also known in Greek as “tsoureki,” is a delicious bread flavored with mahleb, traditionally braided with three pieces of dough to symbolize the Holy Trinity. The locals prepare typical Easter delights like “melitini” and special biscuits, filling the air with delectable aromas.
Melitini are pies formed of a thin layer of dough and filled with a mixture of mizithra cheese, butter, sugar, eggs, and a generous amount of mastic. They cut a thin pastry sheet with a coffee saucer and fill it with the ingredients. It smells like Easter indeed!
Evening church ceremonies
Every evening during Holy Week, a ceremony is held at one of the island’s churches. Orthodox churches are stunningly gorgeous, with ornate designs and wall paintings that reflect life’s beauty and creativity.
You can attend them even if you don’t speak the Greek language – you will undoubtedly get a sense of serenity and tranquillity surrounding you from the first time, while the rituals get more remarkable as the week progresses.
Friday to Sunday itinerary to experience Easter in Santorini like a local
1. Celebrate Good Friday in Pyrgos, Santorini
In Santorini, Good Friday is particularly identified with the village of Pyrgos. It is because of the community’s distinctive “Epitafios” (Epitaph procession – paraded in a somber march) which has made the village known worldwide.
The villager’s preparations include lighting up thousands of aluminum cans filled with flammable materials and placing them on every house, rooftop, church, road, and even the Venetian palace, creating a memorable yet sacred ambiance.
2. Immerse yourself in a pleasant Good Saturday beneath the Cycladic sky
On Good Saturday evening, the monastery of Prophet Elias at the island’s highest point provides a fantastic spectacle. The view from the monastery is breathtaking, and you can witness an incredible display of fireworks that illuminate Santorini’s starry sky.
Additionally, many villages are busy putting up “Judas.”, a scarecrow loaded with firecrackers, which is lit after the vesper service on Easter Sunday. They let it glow and burst with noise. On the Resurrection night, everyone is carrying a candle and a red egg and is eagerly awaiting the end of the service so they can go home and eat “magiritsa”, the traditional Easter soup served to mark the end of the fast.
3. Indulge in a delicious family meal and local traditions on Easter Sunday
The cobbled streets are overcrowded on Easter Sunday as lambs are traditionally roasted over fire pits for several hours. Easter tables are set, and family and friends gather to celebrate with a meal that includes a whole roasted lamb. Great Greek wines, tsipouro, and other drinks flow freely, and meal preparations transform into exuberant festivities even before the meal begins.
Another tradition that Greeks enjoy on that day is the famous “Tsougrisma,” where two players are competing over cracking red eggs. Each player holds a red egg, and one taps the end of their egg against the other player’s egg. Of course, the goal is to crack the opponent’s egg — without breaking yours. The eggs are boiled, and of course, you can eat them after, so no need to worry!
Read our Santorini Travel Guide for authentic holiday ideas on the island
Every year, travelers are awed by the devotion and passion of Santorinians, regardless of their faith! A trip to Santorini for Easter is not to be missed if you enjoy unique moments and traditional encounters. Book your holidays, discover your adventurous side, eat delicious food, and have fun in Santorini. Read our selected blogs and get inspired further: