Corfu articles

Corfu Easter



Corfu Easter, biggest religious event in Greece

We strongly advise early confirmation of bookings due to the high seasonal demand for hotels at Easter on Corfu.

Easter in Corfu is considered to be the most magnificent celebration in Greece. Thousands of tourists (foreign and Greek) gather every year to experience this unique occasion, a combination of rich Corfu history with traditional religious customs.

Sunday before Easter - The first ceremony of the Easter period starts at 11 o'clock on Sunday morning when the body of Saint Spyridon, the Patron Saint of the Island, is carried through the streets of Corfu Old Town. This maintains a tradition started in the year 1630 to commemorate the relief of the Island from famine which in the year 1629 killed great numbers of Corfiot people. This litany is the biggest, and all fourteen of Corfu's philharmonic bands are present.

Good Monday - During the day everyone is shopping and in the evening all Corfu churches on the Island celebrate Mass.

Good Tuesday & Wednesday - The churches are full of people and the priests recite passages from the Bible.

Good Friday - The Mourning procession starts early in the morning carrying an effigy of the body of Jesus (Epitaph). At 4 o'clock in the afternoon a bigger Epitaph (procession) starts from the Church of St. George (in the Old Fortress). This continues until the night when each church in the town, with the exception of the Church of St. Spyridon, starts its own Epitaph accompanied by one of the bands. At 9 o'clock at night the last and most magnificent Epitaph begins. This starts from the Metropolitan Church. Philharmonic bands are playing mourning melodies such as Adagio from Albinoni. The choir of the Metropolitan Church, accompanied by representatives of the secondary schools and Boy Scouts march together in this procession.

Good Saturday - The day starts in the Church of St. Mary where the real earthquake is simulated at 6 o'clock in the morning. This represents the earthquake described in the Bible after Jesus' resurrection. At 9 o'clock the Epitaph starts from the Church of St. Spyridon in the Old Corfu Town centre. In the year 1574 the Venetians forbade the Corfiot people from making this procession on Good Friday. Therefore, it still takes place on Good Saturday. The pomp is moving rhythmically together with the music of the three best philharmonic bands. The first philharmonic band, Old Philharmonic (1840), starts from the old City Hall and plays Hamlet by Italian composer Faccio. The second philharmonic band, Mantzaros Philharmonic (1890), plays Galde la Crime (Hot Tears) by Michelli and the final philharmonic band, Capodistrias Philharmonic (1980), plays Beethoven's Heroika.

By 11 o'clock in the morning the crowd is waiting for the so-called First Resurrection. When Mass is over at the 'Metropolis' (The main Cathedral), bells from all the Corfu churches in town and Corfu Island start ringing. While the bells are ringing thousands of ceramic doses filled with water are thrown down from balconies overlooking the streets of the Old Town. This tradition comes from a passage in the Bible. Late in the evening, at 11 o'clock, everybody gathers in the big square where the Holy Mass takes place. Everyone holds a candle which has been lit from the holy flame. By the end of the Mass everybody on the square has a burning candle. Moreover, every house in the Old Town has dozens of burning candles on their balconies. This creates a unique and unforgettable atmosphere in the town. At midnight exactly the Second Resurrection happens and as soon as the priest says 'Christos Anesti' a huge and magnificent bonfire starts. Everyone shakes hands and wishes a Happy Easter to everyone around them.

Tradition says that every family must boil some eggs and paint them red (also from the Bible). Every member of the family has their own egg and tries to break the eggs of the other members of the family. Whoever's egg breaks all the other eggs without itself breaking will have a good luck all year round.

Holy Sunday - At 7 o'clock in the morning the congregation from all Corfu Town churches comes out on to the streets with a symbol of resurrection, together with school students, philharmonic bands and choirs. In the afternoon the Navy Base in the New Fortress, following tradition, gives meze (a mixture of meat) to the people while dancing groups are performing. This day is also the last day of 40 days fasting and therefore on Sunday afternoon every Greek family grills a whole lamb and has a big feast to celebrate Jesus' resurrection.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Easter Holiday in Corfu island !