Easter is a good time to book Croatia holidays as the Croatians really celebrate this festival in a big way! Being a Catholic country, to the Croatians, it’s very important; even more so than Christmas. Easter traditionally begins on Palm Sunday and continues throughout the whole of Holy Week. Throughout Croatia there are processions, parades and ceremonies every night and it’s a fabulous time to visit the country and be caught up in all the festivities. Community groups don traditional costumes and sing medieval hymns. Some groups even re-enact scenes from the Bible and all the city gates are blessed.
On Palm Sunday, olive and rosemary branches are cut and decorated with ribbons and flowers and fashioned into crosses or wreaths. Little bouquets called ‘poma’ are gathered and taken to the local church to be blessed. They are then hung in the house as a protection and to bring good fortune to the household. Throughout Holy Week on Croatia, villages build big bonfires known as ‘kres’ to scare away evil spirits and to bring light and warmth to the village. Other towns and villages have revived the custom of shooting an old-fashioned pistol, called a ‘kubura’ for the same reason. Some villages even build noisy noisemakers, called ‘klepetalijke’. In Krk, metal plates are fastened to a wooden pole, whilst in Korcula, mobile noise makers are drawn through the streets. Of course, Easter wouldn’t be Easter without Easter eggs. At the end of the Easter celebrations, painted eggs called ‘pisanice’ are given out as gifts. Southern Croatian pisanices are traditionally red with a white star, whereas in other regions, the eggs are decorated with geometric designs and adorned with flowers, pine cones and artificial Easter chicks. Instead of an Easter egg hunt, the Croatians hold an ‘Easter Egg Fight’ which is a great attraction for the tourists here on Croatia holidays. Everyone chooses an egg from their basket and bashes it against the egg of a rival. The person left with egg on their face and with the smashed egg, is the loser!
The Greek Orthodox Easter usually falls 1-5 weeks after the traditional Christian festival dates, but for once nearly every four years, it falls on the same date. This year the Greek Easter falls on Sunday April 15th and it’s a good time to be coming to the country on Greece holidays. Holy week or Magali Evdomada begins on Monday April 9th 2012 and Greek people fast, eschewing meat, fish (but not seafood), eggs, oil and dairy products. Many tavernas close at this time and the ones that do remain open just have seafood and vegetarian dishes on the menu. Women have been busy for the last few days making Easter biscuits called ‘koulourakia’ and cheese pies called ‘kalitsounia’ to be eaten when the fast ends on Easter Saturday. They have even been dyeing eggs red, to symbolise the blood of Christ. Good Friday is a day of mourning and the church bells sound the death knell. There is an evening service at 7 pm and after that, there is a solemn procession through the streets with the congregation all wearing black and carrying a symbolic coffin. On Easter Saturday there is a midnight mass and all the tavernas open after the service. It’s the end of the fast and many lay on big buffets. Easter Sunday is a time for family with everyone getting together with friends for a big party and a meal of spit-roast lamb. Most shops will be closed but you can rest assured that the tavernas will all be open!