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Easter in Greece comes with a bang

Everyone knows of New Year’s fireworks, but in Greece, it’s Easter that’s more worth of a bang. Nearly everyone, but especially young men and boys, will buy some sort of firework to light at the church courtyard during the Easter Mass, on Easter Eve. Theoretically, noise is made to let the whole world know of Christ’s Resurrection, but in fact, it is just the Greeks’ way of showing joy (it is no coincidence that firearms are sometimes still fired on joyous occasions, such as weddings). Perhaps the Greeks are not only happy for Jesus Christ’s symbolic victory over death but they also can’t help rejoicing for their own release from the strict, 7-week-long, fast.

Whatever the reason, they feel they ought to make as much noise as possible and they do so with a vengeance. As soon as the words “Christ has risen from the dead” are pronounced (which, if the priest has timed himself right, will happen on the stroke of midnight) someone will start pulling at the bell rope like a madman and everyone else will respond with the loudest, noisiest fireworks they can get their hands on. The noise is deafening and the ground shakes as crackers, whistlers, bangers and many more are let loose one after the other. Ordinary fireworks may also be released, but it’s the noise that really matters.

The state has tried repeatedly to eradicate the custom which, back in the days when fireworks were homemade, resulted in several injuries and even deaths. It failed every time, to the excitement of youngsters, who can hardly wait for this day of mayhem. Today, most fireworks are ready-made and injuries are rarer, although not unheard of, especially in the provinces; there people still make their own bangers, as they find that ready-made ones are not up to the task of raising the dead with noise. Compared to what happens there, the urban Easter, whose video I’ve attached above, is positively tame. You may sample a noisier one, here, from the island of Folegandros, and the more spectacular celebrations of Vrontados, Chios, here.

A happy Easter (or spring) to you all.

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2 comments on “Easter in Greece comes with a bang

  1. Every opportunity and every nation has its own customs and habits. It is interesting to say that this custom of controlled (and in a number of cases of uncontrolled) use of pyrotechnics was very common around Christmas time in Croatia (New Year is also included). In recent years, however, Christmas is associated with the motto of “Silent Night”. Any celebration that brings joy without tragic consequences is remarkable. In any case, it shows how various nations are associated with the same or similar habits.
    Καλό Πάσχα!

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