Stories, customs and flavors for the most jubilant celebration of the year.
No matter how much of a winter type you are, Easter is coming to lure you into a celebration that smells of spring and offers a unique atmosphere. Religion, folk customs, family moments, traditional flavours and the scents of blossoming fields are intertwined in a period of unique beauty where devotion and redemption succeed each other.
The greatest feast in the Christian calendar – yes, this is what it is – has its roots in the Jewish Pesach: a word that means “passage” and symbolizes the escape (exodus) of the Israelites from Egypt, through the Red Sea, and their deliverance from bondage. This is why the feast is also called Z’man Cheruten, which means “the time of our freedom”. The passage, however, also has to do with the change of season from Winter to Spring, which is why it is always celebrated at the beginning of this season. In Greece, the word Easter possibly originates from the Hebrew Pesach and the Aramaic pasha, but it symbolizes a passage of even greater significance: the passage from Death to Resurrection, from Fear to Hope and from Darkness to Light.
The Lenten fast culminates in Holy Week, just as Jesus Christ’s passion. Holy Tuesday comes with the troparion of Kassiani (Hymn of Kassiani), Holy Wednesday with the myrrh – dedicated to the memory of the sinful woman who repented and anointed Jesus’s feet with myrrh – Holy Thursday, which revives the Last Supper with that stirring echo of the 6th Gospel “Today He is hanging from a piece of wood” and of course Good Friday, the day of the ultimate mourning with the epitaph processions taking place in all the cities and the hymn “O glyki mou Ear” (Oh my sweet Spring) echoing through the streets. Is there anyone who hasn’t whispered those words?
Especially in the Western Church tradition, the mourning of Holy Week is less intense than in the Greek Orthodox Church tradition, where Easter is synonymous with the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his redemptive suffering. In Greece, this great feast is associated with a number of customs: from the most common ones we all observe in one way or another spontaneously, to the more special ones that we meet in different parts of the country and which carry an extraordinary symbolism.
There are impressive customs and traditions that are preserved to this day in different regions of the country. The Botides tradition of pot-smashing in Corfu, is the noisy “custom” with the jugs thrown from the balconies of homes in the morning of Holy Saturday. In the Aegean island of Patmos, ceremony of the Holy Washbowl is a representation of the Last Supper in which the Abbot (the Igumen) washes the feet of 12 priests, exactly like Jesus Christ did with his disciples. The procession of the Epitaph in the sea that has been taking place in Hydra since 1923, in order to sanctify the waters and make them favourable for the sailors. The Night of the Balloons in Leonidio with thousands of lanterns floating in the sky on Saturday before Easter, to mark the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The dead Sapphire of Epirus, a children’s game where one player plays the dead man and the others decorate him with flowers and mourn over him. There are dozens of customs in our country with origins lost in time. And in their own way they underline how important Easter is for all of us.
In Coffee Ιsland we honour this celebration which smells of Greek tradition, as deserved. With flavours and aromas that accompany family moments and create another custom themselves. Greek coffee takes the lead in the Coffee House to remind us of the purity of a habit that emanates from the country’s past. The fragrant vanilla biscuits with almond crisps are served alongside coffee with friends and family and have the taste of spring but also of the happiest month of the year. The fluffy politico tsoureki (brioche), which contains mastic, is a delicious breakfast for these days and evokes memories from childhood Easter holidays and festive moments at home with the whole family gathered together.
Besides, in our country every big celebration is synonymous with special moments and habits that are exclusively associated with it. At Coffee Island we create our own tradition with yummy treats and drinks that bring us closer together and make the Paschal Greeting “Christ is Risen!” even more joyful.