Why Easter is wonderful at Spetses…

On Spetses, as on other Greek islands, the Easter celebrations offer the visitor not only the deeply devout religious character of the holiday, but also the rejuvenating sensations of spring.  The whole island is a lush green, flowers everywhere are in bloom and their heady perfumes are carried all over on the sea breeze.

On the Saturday before the Holy Week begins, on Spetses we celebrate the Resurrection of Lazarus. Children go out into the neighbourhoods singing, carrying with them the island’s particular tradition for that day,  biscuits known as “lazarakia” in little baskets decorated with flowers.

On Good Friday, once the Epitaphioi have been prepared with great care, they are ready to begin the processions. The funeral biers, painstakingly bedecked with hundreds of fresh flowers, leave from the parishes of Ayios Nikolas, Analypsi (Ascension), Ayios Antonis and Ayios Ioannis, and all gather in the  Poseidonion Square. The Epitaphioi are lifted into the air and are kept there as long as possible. A brief prayer is offered up, sung by all who have congregated there, then the Epitaphioi are returned to their parishes, to enable the faithful to receive blessings by passing underneath.

At midnight on the night of the Resurrection (Easter Saturday), fireworks from all parishes are joined in the island’s sky and the streets are teeming with people until the early hours. Each parish re-enacts their own customs. In the parish of Ascension – the parish of the fishermen – a boat is burned  in the courtyard of the temple. On Easter Sunday afternoon, the “Burning of Judas” takes place in the square at Kounoupitsa, a custom revived in recent years by Spetsioti Panayiotis Mathios.