Corfu Easter

Easter celebrations in Corfu are very festive and lively affairs compared with other areas in Greece. First-time visitors are always amazed to witness the traditional processions and services throughout the week. The celebrations are a culmination of various religions such as the Orthodox Christian faith, pagan traditions, the presence of Saint Spyridon, the Roman Catholic Church, as well as Venetian influences, all of which contribute to making the celebration so unique. These influences are complemented by the arrival of spring, with the beautiful music from the philharmonic bands playing through the town.

Due to the popularity of this special celebration, it is strongly recommended for travelers to arrange bookings and travel arrangements well in advance. Hotels located in the Old Corfu Town are in high demand, and this can be reflected in price and availability. Hotel Bella Vista provides the perfect accommodation for this celebration, as we are only a short bus or car ride away from the Old Town, and offer competitive prices during this holiday season. Please contact Hotel Bella Vista staff for more detailed information, and booking reservations during Easter!

Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday)

Easter Sunday begins at 7 a.m., when Resurrection icons are paraded throughout the streets of Corfu Town. The parades finish around 10 a.m., but the real celebration is just getting underway. At 11:30 a.m., a lunch is held at the New Fortress Naval Base, followed by a parade of the Resurrection icon from the Church of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) in Garitsa at 6.30 p.m.

Good Monday

Good Monday is filled with shopping in the local markets and stores in Old Corfu Town to begin preparing for the celebrations to come. Locals also prepare special delicacies for the holiday such as “foyátsa” (a kind of brioche decorated with a red egg), and “mandoláto” (a nobles’ favourite macaroon made of almond and honey), and the aroma of fresh baked goods drifts through the air. These preparations are followed by churches holding evening Mass sessions.

Good Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday

On Good Tuesday, the story of Mary Magdalene is read to the congregation in the city churches. At 9:00 p.m. the “From Golgotha to Resurrection” themed poetry and music night is held at the Peristyle of the Old Palace.

On Good Wednesday, the residents attend the Holy Unction where priests anoint followers with holy oil. At 8:30 p.m. the Municipal Theatre features the Municipal Chorus singing ecclesiastical hymns of the Passion Week.

On Good Thursday, local churches hold the service of the Holy Passion. At 12:00 p.m. in Duomo, the Catholic Cathedral, 12 candles are lit and successively put out as the 12 Gospels are read. Also on this day, the ringing of the first bell signifies for Easter eggs to be dyed red. The red color symbolizes the rebirth of life and the cycle of nature.

Good Friday

Good Friday is welcomed with the ringing of funeral bells, and a morning procession carrying the effigy of the body of Christ takes places throughout the streets. On this day, young girls decorate the Epitaphs, whose circumambulation begins early in the afternoon accompanied by choruses and bands. At 4:00 p.m., a larger procession starts from the Church of St. George near the Old Fortress. This lasts until nightfall when each church in the town (with the exception of Church of St. Spyridon) holds individual epitaphs accompanied by the harmonic bands. At 9:00 p.m. the final and most magnificent epitaphs begins. It is performed by the Metropolitan Church, and the philharmonic bands accompany them by playing mourning hymns. This is followed by members of the secondary schools, and the boy scouts who march together in a procession. The night is tinged with a mournful air, as philharmonic melodies accompany the procession.

Good Saturday

Good Saturday begins at 6:00 a.m. in the Church of St. Mary, where the earthquake as described by the bible after Jesus’s resurrection is simulated. From 9:00 a.m., the Epitaph starts from the Church of St. Spyridon in the Old Corfu Town center. The procession moves rhythmically together to the music from three of the finest philharmonic bands.

By 11:00 a.m., the crowd is waiting for the so-called First Resurrection. When Mass is over at the Metropolis (The main Cathedral), bells from all the Corfu churches in town and Corfu Island start ringing. While the bells are ringing thousands of ceramic vases filled with water are thrown down from balconies overlooking the streets of the Old Town. This tradition comes from a passage in the Bible. Late in the evening at 11 o’clock, everybody gathers in the big square where the Holy Mass takes place. Everyone holds a candle lit from the holy flame. By the end of the Mass everyone, carries a burning candle. Moreover, every house in the Old Town has dozens of burning candles on their balconies. This creates a unique and unforgettable atmosphere in the town.

At midnight exactly the Second Resurrection occurs and as the priest says “Christos Anesti,” a magnificent bonfire is lit. Everyone shakes hands and wishes each other a Happy Easter. Further, according to tradition every family must boil eggs and paint them red, and then they try and break them over the head of other family members. Whoever has the egg which breaks all the other eggs is endowed with good luck for the rest of the year.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday begins at 7 a.m., when Resurrection icons are paraded throughout the streets of Corfu Town. The parades finish around 10 a.m., but the real celebration is just getting underway. At 11:30 a.m., a lunch is held at the New Fortress Naval Base, followed by a parade of the Resurrection icon from the Church of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) in Garitsa at 6.30 p.m.

Rather than the traditional lamb meal of Easter, the Corfiot celebration does not typically include it, but has different kinds of meat and red dyed eggs. The tradition is to crack the red eggs against other eggs, and then to place the shells on the doors, or to throw them into the garden to bless the next harvest. Festivals and dinners are likewise held throughout the countryside.

Easter at Benitses village

Benitses is a seaside village located conveniently 12 kilometers south of Corfu Town. Benitses is an especially popular destination for travelers during Easter holidays because of its close proximity to Corfu, and more moderately priced accommodations compared to the Old Town. Hotel Bella Vista provides a great alternative to staying in Corfu, and offers competitive prices to visitors during this time. In addition, Benitses holds its own celebrations in the town wherein visitors can partake in smaller and more private ceremonies for the Easter week.

The following is a week of the events held in Benitses during Easter week.

Good Thursday

On Good Thursday at 8:30 a.m., a mass is held at St. Nicholas Church in the Benitses main town center. Another service is offered in the evening for patrons to attend.

Good Friday

At 9 a.m., a liturgy is held to commemorate death of Christ. The villagers of Benitses commonly decorate the Epitaphs with flowers to mark the mourning. A procession takes places around the village, which is followed by a liturgy service at 7 p.m.

Good Saturday

Good Saturday begins at 10:45 p.m. with the liturgy for the resurrection of Christ. Following this liturgy, the whole congregation then goes to the central square of Benitses in a procession. The Resurrection on Easter Saturday is also now followed by a mass firework display in Benitses. The display starts at midnight, and is as spectacular as the famous one in the Esplanade Square’s bandstand in Corfu Town! During this time, the locals also give red eggs to one and another to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

For Easter Sunday in Benitses, a mass is held at St. Nicholas Church in the town center. After the mass, it is typical for families to hold small gatherings or dinners.

Benitses offers visitors the opportunity to experience Easter on the island on a smaller and more intimate scale. The celebrations in Benitses provide guests with an alternative to the masses which gather in Corfu Town, and the accommodation prices are also reflected in the high demand for rooms. During the Easter holidays, Hotel Bella Vista prices rooms very affordably for guests who wish to partake in the festivities.

Hotel Bella Vista strongly recommends advanced bookings due to the season. In addition to the spectacular religious celebrations taking place, Benitses is a charming seaside village featuring many restaurants and tavernas, museums, beaches, hiking trails, and much more. Overall, Easter celebrations in Benitses are a unique experience and are not to be missed! We look forward to you joining us soon at Bella Vista to celebrate the Easter holidays!

Easter Sunday