As we move on towards Easter it is noticeable how the number of purple coloured flowers are increasing both small and taller. The roadsides a blaze of purpleon the road from Acharavi as you head towards Episkepsi. With purple being the Lenten colour in the Church it seems religion and nature are at one this time of year.
25th March, Greek Independence Day is celebrated both historically and religiously. Parades celebrate the winning of the war of independence against the Ottoman Empire which was 1821 to 1830. In schools yesterdsy they had lessons about this and they placed flags in the playground.There is a big parade in Corfu Town and smaller ones in large villages including Acharavi.
Meanwhile the Orthodox celebrate the Annunciation by arcgangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would become mother to Jesus Christ the Son of God. Today being 9 months before Christmas Day. The Lenten fast can be abstained from today but only to eat the traditional bakaliaros skordalia, salted cod cooked in batter with a strong garlic mashed potato.
Tomorrow the 4th Sunday of Lent is known as St.John Clmacus day.
Indications from the tourist board that Hotels in Town currently booked at 75% occupancy for Easter with at least 6 more central fully booked. Good occupancy also at larger Hotels outside Town in Dassia and Govia but also further afield with Lefkimmi, Acharavi, Paleo and Sidari all mentioned.
Over 3,500 cruise ship visitors in the week before Easter weekend are also expected.
Flights from Athens are booking well but with flights currently between 138€ and 228€ each way it is expensive. Direct flights from UK are in a similar price range.
Easter in Corfu is big business now, 2nd only to Rome in Europe for tourism but clearly it pays to book well in advance for flights and rooms. Rooms in Town nearly all 117€ to 260€!, some outside town as cheap as 65€. It is on the whole expensive but i would still recommend an Easter visit to anybody even if you are not particularly religeous. Big events in Town with large crowds to make the atmosphere amazing, the bands, the Priests parading, the pot smashing exclusive to Corfu amongst the things to see. Further information will be posted as the events get closer.
This year with Easter being earlier and despite it same as Uk, Roda Beach will not be open (opens 29th April). So it seems Roda will not have any hotel open but i am aware of a few apartments that have visitors and of course families of locals will be visiting as well as some ex pat houseowners.
Tomorrow is St Mary of Egypt Sunday, just 2 weeks before Easter Sunday
Saturday was Lazarus Saturday, lots of choirs perform on this day in two of the bigger squares in Town as well as in Churches. There was also a street choir in Episkepsi on the Friday night.
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, a glorious sunny day, and the big Parade in Town was watched by tens of thousands. Many had been early to one of the Churches for service and to be given palm leaf crosses. Then at 11am the Parade begins arojnd Town for over 2 hours. The holy relics of St Spiriodon. All 18 philharmonic bands, schoolchildren, scouts and guides amoung them. It is a wonderful sight and sound of music, people chattering, young children playing on the Spinada. While awaiting the procession those on the Liston were entertained by street artists. In the evening Church services and also choirs at the old forts church.
Today Monday of holy week there are Church services morning and evening. One of the philharmonics plays in the evening at the Catholic Church, with loud speakers and big screens outside for the crowds will be large.
Today is Kassiani, third day of Holy Week. A woman who loved, sinned and repented. A myth-bearer, who shed tears. The Troparion of Kassiani the nun is amoung the most moving of Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical hymnology, inspiring a composition by Polycrates of a lyrical yet robust melody. So music tonight, the venue decided this morning, somewhere in town or even at the Monastry on Mt Pantocrator. There wil be services this evening in all the Churches. There are also musical events and poetry readings in town. A small van will drive around handing out candles and botides (the small red pots to smash on Saturday). There is also a service in the convent near Agros village NW Corfu, reportedly a unique experience. The writer of the lyrics was a woman and a nun.
Wednesday of Holy Week is a quieter day, however it is the occasion of one of Greek Orthodoxy's seven Mysteries, Efkheleo - Holy Unction. During the afternoon you will witness people coming out if Church carrying cotton wool balls, perfumed with Blessed Oil. The Priest stands near the doorway, blessing and anointing.
In the evening there are still music concerts at the Theatre and other venues.
Thursday of Holy week The Passion of Christ. A passing lady stopped to ask for a flower from my garden, placing the petals in a bag with many others which she was taking to Church. Holy communion takes place. Today is also the day to dye your eggs red, however you can buy them in the supermarket.
Mid afternoon the mournful knell of church bells begins, in church the Crucifix of the Martyrdom of Christ is carried around by the priests. In the padt there used to be a Ceremony of Christ washing the feet of the Disciples in the Spianada, the head Priest washing the feet of 12 priests. Today this custom is only observed in the Catholic Cathedral where the Archbishop washes the feet of 12 young children in colourful robes.
Walking around town this evening you will hear the sound of the philharmonics rehearsing the airs to be played on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Last night's tv news showed the crowds in the meat market readying for the end of Lent, whole lambs being bought at 8.50€ a kilo, the innards to make kokoretsi (sp) were hanging up in rows at 2.99€ a kilo. Everyone will feast on lamb this Sunday, i am going to Sfakera taverna for my meal.
Good Friday and the sacred drama reaches its peak. This morning church services held of The Hours, the Descent from the Cross and the Entombment, this evening the Funeral, the Epitaphios Dirge is sung.
Services begin after noon and carry on until before noon Saturday, the reason is each church has a procession and they do not wish to cross paths with each other. All the times are posted on the Corfupress.com website. Each church has a few members fron one of the Towns 3 philharmonics to accompany them, but in flat caps as not a full band. There are 22 churches in town doing the Procession of the Holy Bier so just by moving a few streets the crowds can witness many and even join along.
By night crowds gather in Demarcheio Square, vestments of Catholic priests are different, so is the cross with white cloth at height of the hands of the crucufied One, who is without thorn crown.
Walking through Nikiforou Theotoki and the Liston all the street lamps are changed to violet.
The last Epitaphios leaves the Metropolis at 10pm, in its following everyone involved in the previous Processions, schools, scouts, guides, the 3 philharmonics in full with their gold headwear, a small light clipped over their scores. Hymns of praise sung by church choirs alternate with the sad marches played by the bands. The Kapodistrias band plays an elegy by Mariani, a funeral march by Verdi or Albinoni's Adagio. Emotion runs high
Last night a large turn out in Sfakera saw the Church full with many outside listening via the loud speakers. The Procession ofvthe Cross and Holy Bier taking place at 10pm as they slowly walked around the village singing and stopping for blessings and prayers. Those not walking with candles were outside watching the Procession pass and many houses had candles on the balconies or in their windows. A moving occasion.
Holy Saturday and at 6am people stream to St Spiriodon church square not for Epitaphios service but to Church of Panaghia ton Xenon. Here custom has required a sort of re-enactment of the earthquake that shook the earth at the moment of the Crucifixion. The Priest intones a blessing then lights go out with thundery sounds from the sacristy, the 3 doors shake, pews are struck with force, the intensity said to fill the packed congregation with awe. After the quake the Priest scatters bay leaves calling on Jesus to rise again.
Later the Epitaphios of St Spiriodon comes out in Procession, the 2nd time his relics are paraded this year. The philharmonics will again play the funeral marches, the schoolchildren, scouts and guides and choirs will march slowly. Kapodistrias philharmonic play Beethoven's Third Symphony funeral march, the Eroica. Mantzaros philharmonic play Calde Lacrime andvthe Old Philharmonic the famous Marcia Funebre nee'opera Amieto di Franco Faccio.
A musical piece heard only in corfu is played, Amletos. It swells like a sob, like an ecstasy above the red uniformed philharmonic, emotions are extreme. Life swells within you so you think you will burst with happiness. Amletos billows over the square and you have a taste of paradise on this earth, so said writer Nikos Demou.
As the Procession finishes the crowds converge on and around the Liston, at 11am, people move bsck from the walls, all eyes turned upwards because on window sills and balconies the Botides appear. Earthenware jar, jugs, pots and pitchers from small to over 6 feet high, coloured red with Eadter wishes or a design on teeter almost threateningly. Chuch bells ring and the pots begin to fall, full of water, to make loud thuds as they smash on the ground. The larger pots dropped after a countdown from the baying crowds, the noise almost deafening, the sight fantastic. The crowds in Town will be exceeding 100,000. While this goes on the philharmonics are marching the streets playing Graiki March (long live Greeks, old and young). Shopkeepers hurridly sweep the shards from the pavements with tourists picking up pieces as souvenirs.
Elsewhere a man has been diving into the Mastella, a hlf barrel decorated with myrtle into whise watery bottom people throw coins.
All churches are then locked, the Priests go to Agia Paraskevi to cèlebrate midnight mass for the Reserection. Meanwhile the faithful gather on the Spianada as the reception of the Holy Light takes place, with fireworks and paeans of the bands almost covering the sounds of bell-ringing.
Now the Greeks rush home, Lent is over, to eat tsilikhourda. It is between a traditional magheiritsa soup and tripe soup!
A very long day for those in the Processions, the bands, the Priests and the crowds. A day you will never forget for the colour, the drama, the music, the pot smashing, the choirs, the smart and sombre schoolchildren, and the fireworks. If you have never been then it should be added to yiur bucket list. An added bonus this year has been the wonderful weather so far since before Palm Sunday last week.
kaz: Just got on my 'puter..thanks for missing me!!...I am there in spirit (always)just wish my BODY was !!!never mind, next year with luck ( before I have to use a walking frame!!!)glad the weather is good for you all....hold on, just want to wipe the tears
Sept 11, 2019 19:50:02 GMT 2
kaz: Now my puter is playing up.......I cant win
Sept 11, 2019 19:53:37 GMT 2
kaz: Hope Forum meetings are going well?? I miss them too xxxx
Sept 11, 2019 20:01:03 GMT 2
kaz: Weather in Kent is very hot...........still not as nice as being in Roda!!!
Sept 17, 2019 16:19:06 GMT 2
kaz: Nights are drawing in...curtains closed.....lights on.........just not looking forward to a long Winter again ( it comes round so quick!!)...Just Xmas to look forward to now, then the New Year and THEN holidays in Roda
Sept 25, 2019 20:15:16 GMT 2
artisans: Be so good to see you again kaz ...
Oct 4, 2019 9:32:09 GMT 2
kaz: Thanks Steve.........hope I get to make it to Roda??
Oct 4, 2019 12:14:36 GMT 2
johnreig: Has anyone got Spiros Banos apartment (Roda) details
Oct 8, 2019 14:15:36 GMT 2
artisans: Details on the thread ....
Oct 11, 2019 22:46:07 GMT 2
kaz: Hi Steve...has sent you email this evening ok
Nov 16, 2019 19:21:05 GMT 2
artisans: Hi kaz - have replied twice now ..
Nov 21, 2019 8:03:35 GMT 2
artisans: Hi kaz - we have what you wanted
Nov 21, 2019 15:03:35 GMT 2
janiemou: Kaz your tea is on its way to the UK, will be posted when it gets there
Dec 3, 2019 10:31:47 GMT 2
kaz: Thanks Jan n Steve....sorry, not been on 'puter for a while but sent you an email to-day.....will let you know when parcel arrives ok, thanks a lot for going to all the trouble for me...take care love Jan n Rosie xxxx
Dec 7, 2019 18:48:58 GMT 2
janiemou: Kaz we'll sort it out when I know the postage etc
Dec 10, 2019 11:45:57 GMT 2
janiemou: Hi Kaz, are you OK?
Jan 14, 2020 12:41:51 GMT 2