The village known as Pyrgos (also Pyrgos Kallistis, meaning the most beautiful tower) in Santorini, is one of the island’s five castles cities. It was the capital of the island for a long time and remains a well-preserved area. The main reason to visit Pyrgos is to discover the way locals celebrate the most important festivity in the Orthodox calendar. Celebrating Easter in Santorini is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to get a closer look at Greece’s deep beliefs and heartfelt religious celebration.
Good Friday in Pyrgos, Santorini
Easter in Greece is a serious business. It’s considered the most important liturgical moment of the year, even more than what Christmas represents in many other countries. Every region of Greece has unique traditions and rituals when it comes to the Easter week. In this article, I want to concentrate only on the magnificent celebrations that take place during Easter in Santorini.
The beautiful village of Pyrgos is not on the coast of Santorini, so it’s not as popular as Oia, Fira, or even Akrotiri. Yet, during this moment of the year, Pyrgos becomes the center of attention on the island. It’s the place where everyone wants to attend Easter Celebrations on Good Friday.
On this day, the village displays one of the most impressive traditions in Greece. People come from every corner of the island, many of them with impressive photo equipment. On the other hand, villagers climb up the steep alleys of the village to reach one of the churches on top of the hill.
Others, instead, sit in open cafés and tavernas sharing coffees and conversation. Many more of them simply gather in the main square waiting for the ceremony to begin.
After the deposition of the Cross, starts the funeral procession of Jesus Christ at the footpaths of the village, just a few moments before, dozens of boys have gone around the village, carrying torch lighters to lighten up hundreds of aluminum cans placed in every house, rooftop, church, and path, as well as on the Venetian castle.
The atmosphere is magical. It is a thrilling experience to see the village glowing from the distance, with flickering flames giving light to the night.
The village glows as the procession of the body of Jesus (the Epitaph) begins, with thousands of people follow behind, holding candles and paper lanterns. Locals admit that this ceremony is not so much connected to religious beliefs, but it’s a tradition loved and long-awaited because of its beauty.
If you happen to be in Santorini during the Greek Easter, you can miss fireworks on Saturday night, you could even miss the tradition of a delicious roasted lamb on the spit on Easter Sunday. Yet, a visit to Pyrgos on Good Friday night is an experience you should not miss.
Santorini during Spring
On the Greek Orthodox calendar, Easter usually occurs sometime in the middle of Spring, which is a gorgeous moment to visit Santorini. In Spring you will certainly avoid the massive touristic madness of July and August and you will enjoy pleasant mild weather. Certain years, it is possible to enjoy a few hours on the beach without extreme temperatures.
All in all, an Easter or a Spring holiday in Santorini is never a bad idea. The island blossoms with wildflowers; vineyards are green and prices are still on the reasonable side. But most of all, keep Greek Easter in mind, learn about the dates and book your accommodation in advance; treat yourself with this remarkable moment no matter what are your religious beliefs are.
Easter gastronomy from Santorini
Melitina, Easter sweet from Santorini
Greek flavors are unique and things do not change much at Easter. One of the traditional bread eaten in this period is tsourekia, but this is eaten pretty much all over Greece.
However, after spending Easter in Santorini, I came across a magnificent sweet called melitinia (μελιτίνια). A small but tasty baked sweet typical in this period
The tradition wants that the women and girls of the family gather on Holy Tuesday to prepare the sweet which is then eaten on the evening of the Resurrection (but easily found during the week in any bakery.
Melitinia has the shape of a tart and comes in different sizes. The name comes from the ancient term meliteros, meaning “as sweet as honey”.
Melitinia has a moist center of fresh sweet cheese. The outer part is made of very thin dough, which makes you think it’s a paper container. Some people think melitinia is of the Cretan lychnarakia also filled with fresh cheese. But melitinia have a completely different taste.
Melitinia has a moist center of fresh sweet cheese. The outer part is made of very thin dough, which makes you think it’s a paper container. Some people think melitinia is of the Cretan lychnarakia also filled with fresh cheese, but both have a completely different taste.