January 1, New Year’s Day
It’s the first day of the year, which defines the first day on the every year’s calendar. In many countries, it is considered a non-working, a holiday. New Year’s day is celebrated on January 1 on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar.
On January 6th, the Greek people celebrate “Ta phota” or “Theofania” or “Epiphania”, which stands for the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan River. This feast day in the Greek Orthodox Church is known as ‘Theophania’ which means ‘a vision of God’ or ‘Christ shining through’. It is considered a very important day for The Greek Orthodox Church.
Clean Monday , also known as Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent or Green Monday, is the first day of Great Lent in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. Clean Monday symbolizes the beginning of a fasting period which is meant to cleanse the body and soul through the medium of fasting, as well as the purification of the mind through religious contemplation.
Clean Monday (or in Greek Kathara Deftera) is the first day of Great Lent in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. It is a feast that occurs at the beginning of the 7th week before Orthodox Easter Sunday. Clean Monday also brings preceding Carnival celebrations to an end, inviting everyone to leave behind the ‘sinful’ attitudes associated with Carnival festivities and non-fasting foods, which were largely consumed during the three weeks of the Carnival.
The first and most common tradition of Clean Monday in Greece of course involves food! Lagana – a lightly unleavened flatbread made especially for and eaten only on Clean Monday. The second most common tradition that takes place on Clean Monday in Greece is kite flying!
On Good Friday, the sacred day of the culmination of the Passion of Christ with the Deposition from the cross and Christ’s burial, people decorate the Epitaph, as the tradition wants the Crown of Thorns of Jesus Christ to be covered with flowers. On this day of bereavement, the devout Christians are supposed not to eat anything. The Epitaph Mass takes place in the evening and then follows the circumambulation; people join the procession on its way through the streets of every single village and city in Greece listening to chanters reciting the funeral psalms in a mystic atmosphere of devout concentration.
This is the time that Judas is burned. A human-sized doll made of old clothes is burned symbolizing the burning of Judas.
Easter Saturday is last day of the Lent. The faithful begin to gather at churches and squares of the cities and villages before 11 p.m., carrying large white candles. Before midnight, the lights of the churches are put out in symbolism of the darkness that Christ had to endure as he passed through the underworld.
The Easter is the biggest holiday of Orthodox people. It is a moveable feast and iais determined on a lunisolar calend. On Easter Saturday morning, preparations start for the festive dinner of the Resurrection night. Before midnight, people gather in church holding white candles, which they light with the “Holy Light”. The priest proclaims “Christós Anésti” (Christ has risen) and people say the phrase “Christós Anésti” to one another. The response is “Alithós Anésti” (He has truly risen). Then they all gather around the festively laid table, they crack red eggs and feast on the traditional “maghiritsa”.
Every year, on March 25 it is celebrated the Greek Revolution Day of 1821 in Greece, Cyprus, and in the center of the Greek Diaspora. The day coincides with the day of the Blessed Virgin. This state holiday is considered a non-working day in Greece and Cyprus. The events dedicated to March 25 include military parades and other festive events held both on the holiday and on the day preceding it. One of the biggest events is the military parade on March 25 in Athens, the day before, on March 24, a training march takes place. In other cities parades are also being held, with military units, students, different unions, and churches are holding services as well. March 25 was established as a national holidayaccording to the King Otto’s 980/15 / -31838 decree in 1838.
Labor Day – May 1
May 1 is known as a Worker’s Day. May 1 was chosen to be International Workers’ Day to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago, on 1st May there was a general strike for the 8-hour workday. In Greece this movement was launched by the socialist association of Spyros Kallergis in 1892. In 1893 about 2000 people demonstrated for an 8-hour workday, one day off -Sunday- and social security for the victims of accidents during work. The protest ended in the arrest of 12 people and Kallergis. However, these strikes continued in other cities, such as in Thessaloniki, where military and police forces used shooting to break up the demonstration, this event lead todeath of 12 and injury of 300 people. Based on all this, Greek writer Yiannis Ritsos wrote his poem “Epitaphios”.
Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday (also known as Monday of the Holy Spirit) is the holiday celebrated the day after Pentecost, a moveable feast in the Christian calendar. It is moveable because it is determined by the date of Easter.
Dormition of the Mother of God
The 15th of August is one of the biggest religious celebrations in Greece. It is also called “Summer Easter”. It is national and religious holiday that marks the “falling asleep, repose or kimisis of Virgin Mary and the Assumption of the body of the Theotokos into heaven.
According to the legend when the Archangel Gabriel announced Holy Mother about her death, She ordered the apostoles to bury her in Gethsemane. On the third day after her death and her tomb was found empty.
October 28, Ohi Day or Oxi Day
Ohi Day or Oxi Day, “Anniversary of the No” commemorates the rejection by Greek primeminister Ioannis Metaxas of the ultimatum made byItalian dictator Benito Mussolini on 28 October 1940, which led to the beginning of Greek-Italian war and Greece’s participation in the World War II. This holiday is celebrated throughout Greece as a public holiday and is considered a non-working day.
November 17, The Athens Polytechnic University uprising
The Polytechnic University uprising occurred in 1973 as a massive demonstration of popular rejection of the Greek military junta. The event of the uprising sparked on November 14, 1973 when the students and the schoolchildren decided to occupy the Athens National Polytechnic University, escalated to an open anti-junta revolt. It ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17 after a series of events starting with a tank crashing through the gates of the University and banned rallies in Athens and Thessaloniki. After all, the head of the junta Georgios Papadopoulos resigned, after which the dictatorships ended in a short while ago.
Christmas, 25th of December
Christmas – Christougena (Christ + γέννα, birth) is celebrated on the 25th December. With Christougena the Christmas holiday season starts and ends up with Epiphany, on 6th of January. All Christmas season is also called “Dodekaimero”