Lights and celebration: Good Friday
Celebrating Easter in Greece. Good Friday. 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.
Wandering about its streets you can see examples of the 5th-century architecture. High up on top of a hill, Pyrgos is a great place to enjoy breathtaking views of the island, while walking down the streets of the village feels like being part of the past.
Apart from the beauty that this little village has to offer, its relaxed atmosphere and the traditional environment of any Greek town, Pyrgos has also gained a well-deserved fame for its unique way to celebrate Good Friday. On this night, the village displays one of the most impressive traditions you could find in Greece on that special day.
Easter traditions in Pyrgos
People come from all over the island, many visitors carry impressive photo equipment, most villagers climb up the roads of the village to reach one of the churches on top of the hill while some others sit in open tavernas or 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 in Spring
If a visit to Santorini during Spring is part of your bucket list (and it should be, mostly if you want to avoid the massive touristic madness of July and August), remember: Spring is the perfect time to see the island, the weather is mild allowing you to enjoy beach days without a suffocating heat.
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 in advance; treat yourself with this remarkable moment despite your religious beliefs. Enjoy the most astonishing visual experience you can think of.
Greek flavors are unique, it couldn’t be otherwise during the Holy Week. We have already talked about the traditional sweet bread, tsourekia, here. Yet, after spending Easter in Santorini, we feel the need to devote a piece of this article to melitinia (μελιτίνια), small but tasty sweets typical of the island.
The tradition wants that the women and girls of the family gather on Holy Tuesday to prepare melitinia, then eaten on the evening of the Resurrection (but easily found during the week on any the island’s many bakeries, most of which are – by the way – open all night long).
Women use an old recipe to prepare melitinia. This sweet looks like 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 kaltsounia, also filled with fresh cheese. But melitinia are sweeter and more delicate.
Get Melitinia every Easter morning
We bought our fresh melitinia (and many other types of bread to eat on the island and to carry back home) in a traditional bakery. Long known for the quality of their products, Santa Irini is on the main road to Perissa. We had breakfast there every day and it was always hard to choose each morning. Their pastries, cakes, and bougatsa are delicious. The family that runs this bakery also has a hotel in Perissa, santairini-hotel.gr.