The official religion in Greece is the Greek Orthodox Church. One way of identifying the Greek Orthodox church is by looking at the flags. This church has the Greek flag and the double headed eagle hang around the entrance. Wealthier people tend to build a little mini Greek church in their yard, like Canadians build garages. Santorini is roughly the size of Sherwood park. The tiny island of Santorini has over 700 church’s over it’s hillside!
Easter week is starts on Holy Thursday. The floor of church’s are decorated with palms, or any green leaves. On Thursday, the congregation of the the church brings flowers. The flowers are used to decorate where the 2-dimensional photo of Jesus is carried on. The decorated bed is carried through the streets like a parade on Friday. Thursday’s mass has 21 readings, as well as the whole mass is sung. The mass seems to have a less formal theme to it as the congregation stands for the whole mass. Members also can stand outside the church. Mostly, adult males are inside the church, and children can be found outside listening to the mass or playing soccer. Bigger church’s have loud speakers so mass can be heard well outside. Since the whole mass is spent standing, there are leaning posts for the use of the attendees. The alter is usually hidden from the sight. In the Greek Orthodox church, statues will not be seen anywhere. All photos are in mural, paintings, or pictures being 2D. St. Paul and Mary can be seen everywhere. The island of Patmos is where St. John received his vision for the book of revelations. There is a chapel of the cave were he received the vision.
Easter Saturday was most stores were closed down. Grotto monastery mass started in Patmos. The floors in Patmos were decorated with lavender on Friday. The path was used to follow your way back to the church on Saturday. On the island of Patmos they have a peculiar lighting of the Easter candle. The first flame of Easter was lit in Jerusalem. A helicopter filled with Greek military agents flew the flame back to different areas of Greece. The Highest level of church leader in Greek Orthodox religion, along with police, carried the flame to the largest church. At the stroke of midnight, the priest announces Christ has risen. He then shares the flame. Everyone crowds near the entrance. Once you receive the flame, the flame is passed on to others around you. A Greek tradition is to keep your flame from burning out during mass and make it home to light another candle for a good luck throughout the year. St. Jerome’s tour guide had been able to complete this challenge by lighting another candle on the cruise ship. Throughout the whole mass, music isn’t played-just vocals by the priest. On midnight, is when fireworks are suppose to go off are to celebrate to rising of Christ. Many of the teenagers were lacking impulse control and set them off at the feet of tourists or friends. Stores near the square of the church had to tape up their windows to prevent them from shattering. The loud noise and the actual fireworks were what caused the windows to shatter.
Easter Saturday can have seafood for supper, but not fish. On Easter Sunday, their meal consists of meat cooked over an open fire in the yard. While in preparation for the Eucharist, the Greeks believe you can’t eat any fish or meat for a week. Lots of vegetarian style meals with vegetables. People selling chickens at stores or in the markets aren’t common. Most people raise their chickens on their balconies or in the backyard. Restaurants can be found with their own chickens on the outside behind the store. Sometimes, sheep can be found raised in behind the restaurants. An Easter tradition in Greece is taking a red dyed egg each person. From there the participants will tap each others eggs. The cheers with glasses like Canadians do at weddings for instance, is what the do with their eggs. The last person with an uncracked egg wins!
March 25 is the Greece independence day. As well as, the day Mary was told about Jesus becoming her son. This is the start of their 2 week holiday that starts the week before Easter. The hill called Mars Hill is made out of marble. St. Paul said his speech about the “Unknown God.” (Acts 17 in the bible.) The priest’s in the Greek Orthodox religion are part time jobs. They have a different job during the weekdays. Lower level of the church officials can get married. In Greece, the cats belong to the city because they believe cats know their is a greater person than humans. Dogs look at their human companions as their “god.”