Easter in Crete

Easter in Crete and Greece as a whole is celebrated in a different manner to what we have become accustomed to at home. The date of Greek Easter changes every year and sometimes coincides with the the rest of Europe but sometimes differs.

Easter in Crete

Rather than spending Easter at home why not take your family on a holiday to Crete and enjoy Easter In Crete which is much more magical than a normal Easter at home.  Crete in April has better weather than here in the UK and any family run hotel will make you feel part of the celebrations and probably even invite you over to share in the mid afternoon roast.

Many of the traditions that bond the generations together occur during the Easter feast. Easter is the most sacred and celebrated of all of the Greek holidays.  The Cretan and Greek people are much more family orientated than most other cultures but at Easter it really shows.

For the tourist its a marvel to watch, the massive bonfires in the town centres, firework displays, lamb roasting on open spits.  Spending Easter in Crete is amazing, get along with the locals and join them in the celebrations, get your red Easter egg and some Easter bread and dine on traditional lamb dishes fresh from the BBQ.

Greek Easter eggs & bread

One of the most popular and well known areas of Greek Easter has to be the Easter Egg which is  associated with beliefs dating back to ancient times.  The egg was an important symbol in the mythologies of many early civilizations, including those of India and Egypt. It was commonly believed that the universe developed from a great egg and that the halves of its shell corresponded to Heaven and earth ring.

Greeks mainly colour eggs red (scarlet) to signify the blood of Christ. They use hard-boiled eggs (painted red on Holy Thursday) which are baked into twisted sweet-bread loaves or distributed on Easter Sunday; people rap their eggs against their friend’s eggs and the owner of the last un cracked egg is considered lucky.

Crete Easter and the celebrations

April is normally a quiet time for the locals, but you will still find them as friendly as ever and in our opinion its the best time to visit the island and get an in sight into the real culture of Crete.

If you get a chance to celebrate Easter in Crete, do not pass it up; it will mean song, dance and “Kefl” around the fire pit as the spit slowly revolves cooking the lamb.  The most important thing to take away from Greek Easter is the family orientated celebrations.  This year make sure you spend more time getting your family together, even go as far as making the Greek Easter eggs or bread that we offer recipes on.

Greek Easter Dates

2016 – Easter Sunday – May 1st

2017 – Easter Sunday – April 16th (same)

2018 – Easter Sunday – April 8th

2019 – Easter Sunday – April 28th

2020 – Easter Sunday – April 19th

Greek Namedays

According to Greek Orthodox tradition, every day of the year is dedicated to a Christian saint or martyr.  This is what is called a name day in Greece.  For example, January 7th is the day of Saint John the Baptist and it is the name day for all Greek people named Yannis (or Ioannis = John, male) or Yanna (or Ioanna, female).   A person’s Name Day is considered more important than the same person’s Birthday and it is always celebrated in Greece.

How do Greek people celebrate their name days. If a friend of yours has his name day, then you should give him a call and wish him “Hronia Polla”. If this is translated, then it means “Many Years” and it is a wish for good health and prosperity. You should ask him if he will accept visits at his house to celebrate his name day.

For birthday parties people invite their friends to their house for a drink or a birthday party but for name days this does not apply. It is up to you to visit your friend and wish him for his name day. Bringing a gift is necessary. Flowers or liquor are ok, as well as books, music CDs or something more personal.

There is a list of the most common names and the days these are celebrated on.  Every Greek is aware of these days, past down through the years and will always be aware of their friends and family.

Dates of Greek name days

Below you will find a list of the most popular Greek names and the date that their name day falls on.  This is by no means a fully comprehensive list but it does cover the main names you will hear on a daily basis in Crete and Greece.

January 1 – New Year’s Day – Vasileios (Vasilis) – Vaso

January 6 – Theofania (Epiphany) – Fotis, Fotoula

January 7 – Ioannis – Ioanna or Yannis – Yanna

January 10 – Grigorios

January 11 – Theodosios

January 17 – Antonios

January 18 – Athanasios& Kurillos

January 20 – Eythimios

January 26 – Xenofontas

February 1 – Trifonas

February 8 – Zaharias

February 9 – Nikiforos

February 10 – Charalampos or Mpampis

February 17 – Theodoros

March 1 – Eudokia

March 16 – Xristodoulos

March 21 – Iakovos

March 25, Annunciation Day – Evangelos or Vangelis, Evangelia or Vangelio or Eva

April 23 – Georgios (Yorgos) – Georgia. If this name day is during the Easter Lent, then it is moved to the 2nd day after Easter.

May 4 – Pelagia

May 5 – Eirini

May 9 – Christoforos

May 10 – Simonos

May 21 – Kostas (Konstantinos), Eleni

June 8 – Kalliopi

June 29 – Petros, Pavlos

July 1 – Kosmas, Damianos

July 3 – Iakinthos (the Cretan Saint Valentine)

July 7 – Kiriaki

July 8 – Theofilos

July 11 – Olga

July 17 – Marina

July 20 – Elias (Ilias)

July 26 – Paraskevi

August 15 – Assumption Day – Maria – Marios

August 24 – Kosmas

August 25 – Titos

August 30 – Alexandros

September 1 – Simeon

September 14 – Stavros – Stavroula

September 15 – Nikitas

September 29 – Kiriakos

October 3 – Dionisios

October 6 – Thomas

October 26 – Dimitrios

November 8 – Michalis, Angelos – Angela, Angeliki

November 9 – Nektarios

November 11 – Minas

November 14 – Filippos

November 16 – Mathaios

November 25 – Aikaterini (Katerina)

November 26 – Stilianos, Stelios – Stela

November 30 – Andreas

December 4 – Varvara

December 5 – Savvas

December 6 – Nikolaos, Nikos

December 9 – Anna

December 12 – Spiridon, Spiros

December 15 – Eleftherios, Lefteris

December 25 – Christmas Day, Manolis –Emmanouela

December 27 – Stefanos

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