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Easter in Corfu is certainly a unique experience nowhere to be found anywhere else in Greece

Easter time in Corfu Island is an experience worthy to live! During the Easter time in Corfu, a period that the locals call it “Lambri”, meaning brightness, is where the festivities and the religious/psychological brightness create that unique feeling.

Considered the ultimate Hellenic celebration, Easter in Corfu town is without a doubt a spectacular event. Thousands of visitors gather each year to be part of this joyous, unique and spectacular experience.

Easter Celebrations In Corfu Town

Easter in Corfu is one of the bigger festivals of the Orthodox church, with celebrations found nowhere else, so it is the perfect excuse to visit Corfu during springtime. Celebrations last for a week

Celebrations always start a week before Easter and they go like that:

Palm Sunday

You will have the chance to witness a custom that is dating back to 1630. All 15 philarmonic bands of the island take part in the procession of the holy body of Saint Spyridon, the protector of Corfu Island, who it is believed relieved the whole island from Plague in 1629. Then you can have lunch and enjoy the traditional meal of the day: codfish with garlic-flavored mashed potatoes.

Great Monday and Tuesday

If you walk among the alleys of the old town of Corfu you will smell the perfume of “fogatsa” (a brioche decorated with a red egg) and “mandolato” (a noble’s favorite macaroon made of almond and honey), which we undoubtedly recommend getting a taste of. If you happen to stroll in the city on the afternoon of Tuesday you will get the chance to listen to the story of Mary Magdalene “hymned” at the city churches.

Great Wednesday

During Wednesday the Holy Unction is sung by all the city’s churches and the Municipal Choir gives its own color with a concert at the Municipal Theatre. You will hear ecclesiastical hymns of the Passion Week with chorals from the East and the West.

Maundy Thursday

"Today is the day where people paint the eggs"

The Service of the Holy Passion is attended by the Corfiots in the churches. In the Duomo, the Catholic Cathedral something different takes place. 12 different candles are lit and after the reading of each of the 12 Gospels, one by one is put out. On the same day, the first bell ring signals the time for the eggs to be dyed in the color red and the arrival of a day of mourning.

Great Friday

On Friday, the churches are filled with people before noon to take part in the ceremony of the Descent of Christ from the Cross and the circumambulation of the dead Christ on a white sheet. It is practically a funeral, so it is an emotional ceremony. Later, the children run on the neighborhoods to ask people for flowers to decorate the Epitaph. Each church has its own Epitaph and is decorated by young girls.

*The churches are taking care of the Epitaphs preparation, decorated with beautiful flowers.

33 Epitaphs, representing the age of Jesus, are processed around Corfu Town, which finally gathers at the center of the Town.

Credit Photo : Spyros Katehis

Towards noon the faithful gather to the church for Epitaph pilgrimage. After that, the circumambulation of the Epitaphs on the streets alleys and squares of the old city and the suburbs starts. From the afternoon until late at night, Epitaphs will pass around the city and they will gather at the historic center. At the Epitaph processions take part schools, scouts and groups of little girls carrying baskets full of flowers. Late in the night, the procession of the last and the most impressive Epitaph of Corfu Cathedral starts.

All the authorities, priests, locals and visitors participate in giving another dimension to this mournful night. The Old Philarmonic (red) plays the “Adagio” by Albinoni, the Mantzaros Philarmonic (blue) plays the “Marcia Funebre” by Verdi and Kapodistrias Philarmonic (red) plays “Sventura” by Mariani.

Holy Saturday

Good Saturday: On Good Saturday, basically begin the Easter celebrations. During the morning hours, approximately at 06:00 am, a ritual is taking place in Saint Spyridon. They create an artificial earthquake to represent the resurrection, as described in the Holy Bible.

At 9:00 am, the procession of Saint Spyridon relics and the epitaph begins, accompanied by three philharmonics, the “Old”, “Kapodistrias”, and “Mantzaros”, and one of the oldest epitaph processions in Corfu, exceptionally processed on that day, since the epitaph processions are a tradition to take place on Good Friday.

At 11:00 am, the “First Resurrection” takes place inside the churches, and the bells of the churches ring cheerfully, and the popular “Botides” custom takes place in Corfu Town

“Botides” custom refers to the time when people are throwing big clay pots filled with water from their balconies, and the crowd is watching, and the philharmonics play religious marches.

The origin of this custom derives from the Venetian occupation, where people used to throw the old stuff from their balconies during New Year’s Eve, hoping that the New Year brings them happiness and new things. In the Old Town of Corfu, another custom takes place, “Mastella” where a big barrel full of water is placed by the road, and all people passing by should throw a coin in the barrel.

*Red clay pots are caught in mid-air as they are thrown to the streets. A symbolic ritual re-enacting the Earthquake after Christ’s Resurrection.

Credit Photo : Stamatis Katapodis

During the night the Catholic Mass of the Resurrection takes place in Duomo with the accompaniment of the ecclesiastical organ. The service ends at 11.00pm where it is time for the Orthodox Resurrection to take place. The service happens at the kiosk of “Pano Plateia” where the bishop, the authorities, the philharmonics, locals, and visitors gather. It is a unique and phantasmagoric spectacle to witness. Thousands of candles are lit on the balconies, the windows and the hands of the present people. The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated at 12.00 with fireworks and drumbeats. When the service is over the philharmonics play cheerful marches around the city.

Easter Sunday

The day begins with the procession of the icon of resurrection around the town and the villages. Then it is time for the festive meal everyone was waiting for since the 40 days of fasting began. Roasted lamb on the spit, red eggs that were dyed on Maudy Thursday, fogatsa, wine and mostly a lot of music, dancing, and singing. This day, the Naval Station of Corfu in the new fortress is open to the public with its feast. In the afternoon the locals go to church again for the “Service of Love”. The priest embraces and kisses everyone and t people kiss the Gospel and the hand of the priest.

And this is how Corfiots celebrate Easter! It is a unique celebration, nowhere to be found anywhere else in Greece, so many people from all over the country gather here to witness it. It is a beautiful spectacle, so we recommend planning your Easter Holidays in Corfu to witness it al least once with your eyes. After all, it’s just another excuse for sailing in the Ionian Sea while enjoying a local tradition!

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