A rare documentary video, located in the British archives of Pathe, depicts the Easter celebration in Greece in 1947, during the height of the civil war.
Greek Orthodox Easter, is the most important religious feast of the year, with customs and traditions that have been part of Christianity for two thousand years.
The 40-day period of Lent before Easter (Πάσχα-Pascha), the solemnity of Holy Week, the rich symbolism, and the unique traditions of Orthodox Easter make it very different than Easter as celebrated by Western Christians.
The way Greek Orthodox Easter is observed by the faithful is so very different, with different symbols used to commemorate the Resurrection, and with Orthodox and western Easter being observed on different dates.
Christians, with the feast of Easter mainly commemorate (therefore, they celebrate several Easter feasts, for different reasons) the passage of Jesus Christ from death to life, his resurrection, which took place on Sunday, on the third day of his death, to save the people of God, who are thus freed from the consequences of sins that separate them from the Creator.
Every Easter, Greeks thank and honor Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins and we celebrate the miracle of the Resurrection, the rise of Jesus Christ from the dead and the promise of an afterlife.
The events of the Greek civil war
In the video, one can see the Public Order Minister Napoleon Zervas, leader of EDES and the National Party, behind Alexander Papagos, celebrating Greek orthodox Easter.
The Greek civil war took place between March 1946 and October 1949 and was the first case of a communist insurrection after World War II, which is why it can be considered as the first warlike conflict of the Cold War.
The victory of the government’s anti-communist forces led to Greece’s entry into NATO and helped define the strategic balance in the Aegean Sea and the Balkans in post-war Europe.
The civil war pitted the conservative population and the armed forces of the royal government, supported by the United States and the United Kingdom, against the Greek communists and members of the largest organization of the anti-fascist resistance that had fought against the occupation of Greece.
The civil war left the country in a worse state than that of the Nazi occupation in 1944, generating more destruction of infrastructure in a country that was already poor in 1940.
Thousands of Greeks were forced to emigrate for economic reasons to countries like states. United States and Australia, among others.
The civil war also left a politically polarized society between the “winners and losers” of the civil war, a polarization that would not be restored until 1974, when the colonels’ dictatorship ended and the Third Hellenic Republic was declared.