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Experience Easter on Poros

By: | April 20th, 2016 | 0 Comment

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The island’s natural beauty blossoms with spring, creating a picture-perfect backdrop for the most poignant holiday on the Orthodox calendar.

Poros sparkles in the spring, as light infuses the sea with reflections from the pines covering its slopes. It’s the perfect destination for an Easter break—accessible and affordable. Just an hour from Piraeus by sea or a pretty two-hour drive from Athens by road, Poros offers good food and a range of accommodations for couples, families, or groups, from self-catering to luxury.

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Holy Week on Poros is special as islanders live the drama of the Passions of Christ. The mood is somber on Holy Thursday for the reading of the Twelve Gospels and the crucifixion. A somber silence hangs over the island on Good Friday, when Christ’s body is removed from the cross and placed on a wooden bier or epitaphios which the parish women decorate with flowers throughout the night. Shops and businesses are closed until the morning service is over. Church bells toll in mourning throughout the day and through early evening.

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As night falls, locals go to their parish church, from where they will follow the “epitaphios” procession as it winds through the neighborhood. Good Friday is an especially memorable observance on Poros as the candle processions from the town’s four parishes converge at Plateia Iroon, the heroes’ square, on the main waterfront.

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The combination of the yellow candles’ flames reflected on the water’s surface and the chanting of Mary’s lament “Oh! my sweet spring” (O Glyki mou ear) is magical. Afterwards, the crowds dissolve to the tavernas and cafes to share an ouzo and some Lenten meze as modern custom dictates.

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On Saturday, the midnight resurrection service also gathers the island’s entire population which fans out to its parish church. This time, the faithful hold white candles which are lit from the flame passed from the altar. (The flame had been flown to Greece from Jerusalem a few hours earlier after being lit in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.) The resurrection of Christ is announced with tolling bells, chanting, and some noisemakers at midnight. Afterwards, locals head for tavernas in town to break the Lenten fast with the traditional mayiritsa soup and red Easter eggs. If you can’t wait until midnight, the services at Ayios Serafeim in Lemonodasos (the Lemon Grove on the Peloponnese shore) are held from 9:45 pm and end at 10:15 pm—and the idyllic setting makes it worth the trip.

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Easter Sunday is a day for celebration—drinking, eating, dancing. The island’s numerous tavernas in Poros Town as well as at Askeli, Neorio, and Ayios Nektarios in Foussa all serve the traditional Easter Sunday lunch of roast lamb. Walk off the meal by strolling through the town where the feasting often spills out of small gardens into the lanes.

Diane Shugart

About Babis Kanatsidis

Experience Easter on Poros

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