One of the many reasons why we, Corfiots are proud of ourselves is our brilliant Easter. During the Holy Week, our island has a tranquil atmosphere for about five days, until great Saturday comes when the resurrection of Jesus Christ brings a more festive spirit to the whole island. What happens during that week as long as traditions are concerned, and what you should experience, is analyzed below and you may also find it in other sites.
Holy Monday in Corfu
The first day of the Holy Week there is an alteration in the lightning of the island from white to purple. This purple lightning starts from the seaside street, at Garitsa Bay, and continues until the Liston square, with the much-talked coffee shops, made in the image of the French street Rue de Rivolli, and end at the purple cross at the old fortress. At the same time is very common to see that many of the houses follow this tranquil atmosphere with deem lights. That evening, at about 21:00 the Mantzaros Philharmonic is playing at the Saint Iakovos and Christophoros Cathedral (Duomo), at the Town Hall Square.
Holy Tuesday in Corfu
During the Holy Tuesday, in every church you will hear the chant of Kassiani, and you will see the oldest people of the island, who follow the customs and traditions better than anyone, standing in awe and repentance. Everywhere in the old town, you will hear the Adagio march of the Venetian songwriter Tomaso Albinoni. What cannot be unnoticed is the smell of “fogatsa”, also known as the bun of Easter, coming from every pastry’s door and every traditional Corfiot house.
Holy Wednesday in Corfu
On Holy Wednesday, the unction is here to give salvation to people from their worries and all the negative thoughts they have. During the ritual, the priest using oil and a cotton makes a cross on people’s wrists and forehead. This process is called “chrysoma” and is supposed to cleanse us from every sin. This is a similar process to the confession but without verbal involvement. The same evening the Corfiot band of San Giacomo is playing at the municipal theater, in front of the prefecture building.
Holy Thursday in Corfu
On Holy Thursday, we read the twelve Gospels, and after the end of the ritual, we stay longer in the Church to prepare and decorate the epitaph. On the same day, we dye the eggs, while in many villages we whitewash the streets so that everything goes well, an old custom still alive in many regions until nowadays.
On Holy Friday, even the weather is a bit dull, as if it is supposed to follow the tranquility of that day. So don’t be surprised if during Great Friday the sky is a bit cloudy. From early in the afternoon we start the procession of the epitaphs, the most distinct of them all is the one of the Catholic church (Duomo), which represents Jesus Christ in his most realistic form. Following to that, is the program of the epitaphs’ procession, near Corfu center, with the last one being that of Mitropoli, at about midnight.
14:00, Epitaph of Pantokratoras Church
14:00, Epitaph of Spilaiotisis Church
15:00, Epitaph of Saint Nicolas of the baths.
16:00, Epitaph of Saint Georgios
16:30, Epitaph of Panteleimonos Church
17:15, Epitaph of Odigitria-Panagiopoula Church
18:00, Epitaph of All Saints (Town Church)
18:45, Epitaph of Saint Sophia
18:45, Epitaph of Saint Iason and Sosipartos
18:45, Epitaph of Holy Trinity
19:00, Epitaph of Saint Paraskevi (Porta Remounta)
19:00, Epitaph of Saint Antonios and Andreas
19:15, Epitaph of Saint Eleftherios (Town Church)
19:15, Epitaph of Vlahernon Church
19:45, Epitaph of the three martyrs church
19:45, Epitaph of Faneromenis Church, Panagia ton Xenon
20:15, Epitaph of Saint Nicolaos of the Old
20:15, Epitaph of Saint Vasilios
20:45, Epitaph of the Cathedral of Saint Christoforos and Iakovos of Corfu (Duomo)
20:45, Epitaph of Saint Ioannis the Prodromos
23:00, Epitaph of the Metropolitan Church of Hyperagia Theotokos Spileotissa
Holy Saturday (Day of resurrection)
The day of the resurrection, it is advised to wake up early. Tradition has it that day to revive the earthquake, at the church of Xenon (in front of Saint Spyridon Church), where you will see the whole temple moving, together with chairs and benches. It is a lifetime experience. The litany of Saint Spyridon follows, while just before 11:00 you will hear for the last time a mournful chant by the “Palaia” philharmonic of Corfu (Old Philharmonic). It is “Amlet”, a mesmerizing chant that marks the time to start the custom of Botides, during which clay pots full of water are thrown from the balconies! We throw them to outlaw the bad energy and to denote the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Make sure you find a nice place at Spianada square, in an open place, or under one rouf, so that you can enjoy this custom without danger. Must have: a camera or a smartphone with an HD camera, so that the memories will stay alive forever. Preferable way of transportation that day is either by foot or by motorbike as all the streets are full.
Another custom worth watching after the first resurrection is that of “Mastella” at the old town, at Pinia, where tremendous amounts of people gather each year to see the revival of the “once crazy”, who jumps in a barrel full of coins, that the pedestrians had thrown for good luck! A strictly Corfiot custom with a dosage of humor. The night of the resurrection is the most beautiful night of the week and large groups of people, from all over Greece, gather at Spianada square to light up their candles! “Come and get the holy light”…