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Holy Saturday: The Last Day of Great and Holy Week


The last day of Great and Holy Week is Holy Saturday — the day on which the Greek Orthodox Church commemorates Jesus’ burial and his descent into hell where he preached to all the dead.
On this day, the Church reminds us of how the chief priests and Pharisees asked Pontius Pilate to secure the tomb of Jesus for three days out of fear that his disciples would attempt to steal his body and then claim that he was resurrected, as they believed that this act was to be Jesus’ greatest deception.
On Saturday, the Church commemorates the events of this holy day with the Resurrection Liturgy taking place on the night of Holy Saturday.
During the liturgy, a few minutes before midnight, all the lights are turned off and the priest exits the altar holding candles lit by the Holy Light, which is then shared with all the people inside and outside the church.
At midnight, the priest exits the church and announces the resurrection of Jesus, which is followed by the light and the sound of fireworks being set off.
People return to their homes following the Resurrection Liturgy, carrying their candles to their doorways, where they use the smoke of the candle to make the sign of the Cross. The flame is kept burning for thirty to forty days in their home.
After coming home, Greeks sit down to break the Lenten fast by eating mageiritsa soup together — a soup made from lamb or beef offal. Then after their meal, everyone takes a red-dyed Easter egg to play a game called “Tsougrisma,” in which whoever holds the egg which doesn’t crack when tapped on their opponent’s egg is blessed with good luck for the year!


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