Holy Week is known in Greece as “Megáli Evdomáda”, “Big Week.” During this week before Easter Sunday, church activities increase day by day. Associated with this, more and more people take time off to get into the mood for the imminent Easter festivities and to make preparations for the Easter Vigil celebrations and Easter Sunday.
Closely linked to the Greek Easter festival is Tsouréki, Easter bread, a sweet yeast-raised pastry. And there are of course the red-coloured hard-boiled eggs, which are traditionally not painted until Maundy Thursday but which are of course on sale everywhere beforehand.
Monday - Megáli Deftéra
Holy Week begins. From now on, evening services are held in all the big churches on Milos.
Tuesday - Megáli Tríti
The lessons follow a fixed pattern. At the start of Holy Week, they are mainly parables, in the course of the week the focus is on the Passion of Christ and reference is made on specific days to the events of the last few days before Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.
One special feature on Milos is “Golgotás,” Golgotha Hill above Plakes. Throughout the year, three quite big crosses stand on this hill and on the Tuesday of Holy Week the figures of Jesus and his two fellow crucifixion victims are attached to them. Logically it is rather early in Holy Week but this gives notice even to outsiders that another event is imminent, namely the Descent from the Cross on Good Friday, which attracts many visitors annually.
Wednesday - Megáli Tetárti
Holy Communion. In this mass, thoughts are concentrated on the Last Supper that Jesus took with his disciples. This actually took place on the Thursday and that is when it is actually observed in the Catholic Church. The evening masses in the Greek Orthodox Holy Week, on the other hand deal mainly with the events of the following day.
Maundy Thursday - Megáli Pémpti
The 12 gospels are read out and the church bells are rung at the same time. After the sixth gospel, the cross is carried from the sanctuary into the middle of the church and venerated by the faithful. This symbolic act refers to the crucifixion, here too on the eve of the actual day, Good Friday. During the night, the “Epitáfios,” the symbolic tomb of Christ, is decorated with flowers and candles and so prepared for the big procession on Good Friday.
Easter eggs are traditionally coloured during Maundy Thursday. This is usually in symbolic red or just in any colour you like.
Good Friday - Megáli Paraskeví
The crucifixion of Christ was already referred to on the eve of Good Friday, so Good Friday begins with the Descent from the Cross on Golgotás in Plakes. On the afternoon of Good Friday, this is re-enacted in a very vivid manner.
During the day, the “epitáfios” set up in the church is venerated. In the evening, it is carried through the streets in a big procession. Many of the residents wait along the road and burn incense outside their houses and a few rockets are occasionally let off. Since on Milos several churches organise their own processions, the routing, in particular in the area of Karodromos, requires a little logistical planning. Nevertheless, a proper traffic jam can occur and can lead to the curious-seeming encounter of up to three epitaphs. Once the procession has found its way back to the church, the epitáfios is placed before its entrance. The faithful stoop to pass beneath it one after the other into the church to once again show their reverence to the tomb of Christ.