Greek Easter in Corfu

The celebration of Easter in Corfu is a unique and refreshing experience, witnessed by thousands of people, both Greek and foreign, who are flooding the island during those special days. The celebrations – mainly focused on the capital of the island – are sure to draw you in, inviting you to take part in the biggest celebration of Greek Orthodox Church, but also incorporating many elements of Western European civilization.

A total of 18 bands on the island have a great importance in the celebrations, taking turns performing on the streets of the historic centre of Corfu during the entire Holy Week, creating an atmosphere of great celebration. The celebrations start early on Palm Sunday, with the great procession of the patron saint of Corfu, Aghios Spyridon, during which all 18 bands play. At the end of the day, the parade focuses on the city centre, with songs that introduce the world to the spirit of Holy Week; during the same evening, the Philharmonic Society ” Mantzaros ” performs at the Municipal Theatre.

On Great Monday the Corfians head to the squares while the bells call the faithful to the churches. Holy Tuesday evening is Music Poetry Night, “From Calvary to the Resurrection” in the colonade of the Old Palace, while during Holy Wednesday people gather at the Municipal Theatre to enjoy the concert and Church Music of Megalovdomadiatikon.

On Great Thursday, the 12th candles are lit in the Duomo, the Catholic Cathedral of the Town Hall Square; they are only extinguished during the reading the 12 gospels; on Good Friday, young girls decorate the epitaphs in churches, to expose a pilgrimage starting at noon. The bands play funeral marches, accompanying the procession of Epitaphs in the picturesque streets of the city during early afternoon, while the crowd below chants “The genneai Pasha”

The atmosphere is very touching on the evening of Good Friday, when, on the Epitaph of Metropolis, the Old Philharmonic (red) play the Adagio of Albinoni, the Mantzaros (blue) play the Marcia Funebre of G. Verdi and the Kapodistrias Elegia Funebre of Mariani play the Funeral March of Chopin.

Saturday starts vigorously at 6.00 am, with the re-enactment of the earthquake described in the Gospel as following the resurrection of Jesus. At 11.00 am, perhaps the most famous custom of Corfu takes place, when thousands of clay pots, full of water, are dropped from the windows of the houses in the city centre, crashing down with a big noise, to celebrate the miracle of Resurrection. It is an old custom, passed on from the Venetians, who celebrated New Year’s in the same fashion, by throwing away old objects, to usher in a new year. This is the sign for the island Philharmonic to roam the streets, playing joyful songs.

At night, the procession of Resurrection takes place in impressive fashion, in the Upper Square; all the windows and balconies hold flickering candles, creating a solemn atmosphere. Thousands of believers flood the square, light torches, and celebrate until midnight, accompanied by the fanfare and fireworks. The atmosphere is very festive, as the world celebrates the end of fasting of Lent, eager to enjoy the Paschal supper.

Easter Sunday in the city centre is a loving and peaceful sight, with the festive atmosphere after an extensive lunch. People enjoy rides and games in the town square, while the Esplanade and Liston promenade is flooded by music and smiling people.

Easter in Corfu is authentic and truly devout, attracting thousands of people every year and turning the island into a prime destination to welcome spring and the opening of the summer tourist season.

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