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Greece Celebrates Resurrection of Christ: Christos Anesti!

Greece Resurrection
The moment of singing ‘Christos Anesti’ at midnight on Saturday to Sunday. Credit: Georgios Liakopoulos,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 /Wikipedia

Greece celebrated on Holy Saturday night the Resurrection of Christ at local churches throughout the country.

In a service that started late in the evening, candle-holding crowds gathered outside the church.

During the liturgy, a few minutes before midnight, all the lights were turned off and the priest exited the altar holding candles lit by the Holy Fire, which arrived only a few hours earlier from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The Holy Fire was then shared with all the people inside and outside the church.

At midnight the priest announced that Christ Has Risen (“Christos Anesti”) in a mystical chant.

Christ is risen from the dead,
by death trampling death,
and to those in the tombs
granting life!

The hymn is part of the Paschal Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine Rite, and it was certainly in use in the 5th or 6th century. Its ultimate origin is unknown.

The feeling of anticipation and adoration intensified throughout the crowd, as smiling faces were illuminated by the ritual of lambada candles being lit with the holy light from person to person.

“Christos Anesti” was followed by the light and the sound of fireworks being set off.

Many people took their candles home and drew a cross over their doors with the soot, in a prayer for good luck and blessings.

Egg cracking and magiritsa in Greece after Resurrection Liturgy

Then at dinner tables, egg cracking, or tsougrisma (τσούγκρισμα in Greek), started.

The red-dyed eggs are tapped against each other and cracked together between two people as they exchange the traditional Easter greeting “Christos anesti!” (“Christ has risen”) – “Alithos anesti!” (“He Truly Has”).

Greeks have been cracking red eggs at Easter for many centuries. The tradition, although it is also a fun game, is of course steeped in religious symbolism as well.

The egg in itself is a symbol, as its hard shell represents the sealed tomb of Jesus — the cracking of which symbolizes His resurrection from the dead and exit from the tomb.

This was followed by the traditional Easter soup “magiritsa”,  a Greek soup made from lamb offal. Greek-Americans and Greek-Canadians sometimes call it “Easter soup”, “Easter Sunday soup”, or “Easter lamb soup”.

Magiritsa which breaks the 40-day Great Lent period is considered to be the best meal to gradually ease your digestive system back into its regular eating habits after the fasting period.

In some parts of Greece, most notably Thessaly, it is not served as soup but rather as a fricassee, where it contains only offal and a large variety of vegetables, but no onions or rice, as in the soup.

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