Today is Easter Sunday here in Greece.

‘Easter is called Pascha in Greek, which derives from the Greek  πάσχα (πάσχω means suffer), the Latin pascha, the Aramaic פסחא (paskha) and the Hebrew פסח (pesakh). It is the most revered and celebrated time of the Greek Orthodox Calendar. Easter eggs are an especially beloved tradition. Baskets filled with dyed eggs are offered to family and guests to select and partake in the ritual called tsougrisma, where people engage in cracking each others’ eggs until only one lucky egg has remained intact. For my mother this custom was an essential part of the Easter preparations and she often made two different batches of eggs. One group of eggs was dyed the customary red colour and decorated with Easter theme stickers. Once these were ready she would send me to the garden to pick parsley, dill or rosemary leaves and small flower petals to stencil the second batch of eggs. She kept the petals in place by encasing the egg in a piece of elastic stocking, which she then tied firmly. Some of these eggs were dyed in the customary red dye and some in natural onion dye. We then polished the eggs with olive oil. As a child I found these eggs with the delicate stencil designs too beautiful to crack so my mother let me keep some until they became hollow and the yolk had transformed into a small marble……Tonya Alexandri’

An Easter inspired poem by Yiannis Ritsos, a much loved Greek poet

 «Εαρινή Συμφωνία» Γιάννης Ρίτσος

(Spring Symphony by Yiannis Ritsos

More about Yiannis Ritsos at:

«Άκου τα σήμαντρα   / των εξοχικών εκκλησιών.

Φτάνουν από πολύ μακριά   /   από πολύ βαθιά.

Απ’ τα χείλη των παιδιών

απ’ την άγνοια των χελιδονιών

απ’ τις άσπρες αυλές της Κυριακής

απ’ τ’ αγιοκλήματα και τους περιστεριώνες   /    των ταπεινών σπιτιών.

Άκου τα σήμαντρα   /   των εαρινών εκκλησιών.

Είναι οι εκκλησίες  /    που δε γνώρισαν τη σταύρωση    /    και την ανάσταση.

Γνώρισαν μόνο τις εικόνες    /    του Δωδεκαετούς

που ‘χε μια μάνα τρυφερή   /    που τον περίμενε τα βράδια στο κατώφλι

έναν πατέρα ειρηνικό που ευωδίαζε χωράφι

που ‘χε στα μάτια του το μήνυμα  /  της επερχόμενης Μαγδαληνής.

Χριστέ μου   /   τι θα ‘τανε η πορεία σου

δίχως τη σμύρνα και το νάρδο   /    στα σκονισμένα πόδια σου;»

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