Easter celebration in Athens, 2/2
Easter celebration in Athens
So…after Holy Week’s liturgies-candles-Epitaph-Resurrection etc., I will let you know few things about customs of Easter’s food. In order to feel like a true Greek, you should taste few Easter’s delicacies. However, it is important to say that the Greek Easter tradition of food has religious significance.
That is to say that the Great Lent lasts 40days before Pascha-Easter and most of Greeks are fasting from meat and dairy (milk, cheese etc.). Beginning on Holy Saturday the feast is big with magiritsa soup, red dying eggs, roasted lamb, tsoureki sweet bread, Easter cookies, pies and of course…tzatziki. Because, #tzatzikigoeswitheverything !
Red Easter eggs
The Great-Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday) starts, for every household, with dying 40 eggs in red color. The hard-boiled eggs’ shell symbolizes the sealed tomb of Jesus’ grave. Furthermore, when we are cracking the eggs saying Christos Anesti represents His Resurrection from the dead and His exit from the tomb. Moreover, the red color on eggs symbolizes Christ’s blood that gave to free us. However, the last few years many people try to add other colors on eggs.
In the same vein, after The Resurrection will wish to the others ‘Christos Anesti’ (Christ has risen) by cracking red eggs. Your interlocutor has to answer back by ‘Alithos Anesti’ (He Truly Has) and tapping his/her egg to yours. The goal here is to crack your opponent’s egg, without cracking yours. This custom called tsougrisma. Of course you will eat many red eggs for your Easter celebration in Athens (check my eggs at the picture below), but you can also learn some new recipes.
- You could use the remaining eggs to an egg salad within a toast, to a meatloaf, to a lentils-tomato-egg salad, stuffed eggs with avocado sauce or in a beetroot salad and many more.
- Red egg you will find in any supermarket and bakery during Holly Week.
Even though you can find tsoureki all year round, it is inevitable to taste one on Holy Sunday. Tsoureki is a sweet milk-butter-yeast bread preparing on Holy Thursday morning with many herbs like cardamon, mastic and mahalepi. Usually, it has sesame seeds on top or almonds and different nuts. Sometimes, it even has a red egg in the middle and different shapes like knots or braids or round circles. This bread is symbolic because it represents the resurrection of Christ, as the flour comes to life and is transformed into bread.
Here it is worth noting that tsoureki bread was prepared even from Byzantine times and called kollyrides.
- If…if…iiif you have left-over tsoureki (I hardly doubt about that), you could fill it with chocolate spread, toasted it and eat it with maple syrup and blueberries or even prepare a tsoureki-bread pudding.
- All bakeries, all patisseries and all supermarkets have tsoureki and Easter cookies during the Holy Week.
- Tsoureki needs special flour with at least 13% protein on it.
P.S.: At the picture below, you will see my this-year-tsoureki-creations for my god-daughter.
Again, on Holy Thursday morning, the households will knead Easter cookies. These ones have extra butter, orange zest and mastic flavor. Usually they have shapes like knots, braids or bunnies, eggs, chicks, sheeps and spring swallows, like the ones I did below.
- If you have leftovers, then try to make chocolate cookie bars, chocolate mousse, cheesecake with Easter cookies base or ever ice cream with Easter cookies flavor and many more.
- All bakeries, all patisseries and all supermarkets have Easter cookies during the Holy Week.
The feast begins after His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. After the midnight church the meal is a magiritsa soup. An appropriate meal to prepare the stomach for roasted lamb after the 40days fasting lent. Magiritsa, traditionally, is a fricassee soup with lettuce, fresh green onions, herbs and liver with offal of the lamb.
During your Easter celebration in Athens, make sure that you will book in a tavern that has magiritsa on Easter Sunday.
Roasted lamb on a spit & roasted kokoretsi on a spit
Even if you have not Greek friends to watch them roast the lamb, you could attend to this custom by watching it in a tavern. The lamb is slowly cooking on the coals for about 5 hours (9:00-14:00) on the street or inside the yards. In the meantime, the housewives are giving cheese or spinach pies, tsoureki and Easter cookies and everyone plays the tsougrisma of red eggs. Meanwhile, the kokoretsi is ready around 13:00 to stop cravings until the lamb will be ready with a crispy skin. Kokoretsi is lamb’s intestines wrapped around with seasoned offal (sweetbreads, hearts, lungs and kidneys). It is also roasted on a spit.
PS: Something like kokoretsi was first attested uring Byzantines time.
Not all taverns have roasted lamb/goat on a spit for Easter Sunday. If they do not have, they will grill the lamb on the oven. So, choose wisely your booking table and ask them first if they will have it on a spit.
Hopefully, you will enjoy your Easter celebration in Athens. I intend to do it.
Kalo Pascha everyone and Kali Anastasi !!!