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Kreta > Festivals and events

Festivals and events

Easter

It is the most important celebration in Greece, the Orthodox Pascha. It is celebrated mostly after the Catholic one and it is a good time to visit Crete. It is a family affair and people are focused in the home, celebrating the resurrection of Christ. They roast goats, drink wine and eat kalzone.Very interesting customs take place during the Holy Week and the long evening church services are attended by many people. During the Good Friday the Epitaphi, the funeral bier, is carried through the streets around the churches. In the cathedrals of the cities this procession is accompanied by soldiers, music and the crowd. In Agios Nikolaos and in more villages Easter starts with the burning of an effigy of Judas Iscariot the last night (the great Saturday).

Festival of the Virgin Mary, 14-15 August

It is a much more public celebration in the peak of the summer. Church processions are followed by open-air eating and drinking in the main square of the villages. It is regarded as second only to Easter.

Independence Day/Feast of the Annunciation, 25 March

The start of Greece's struggle for freedom against Turks in 1821 is celebrated. Military parades take place in major towns.

Arkadiou, 7-9 November

The heroic fall of the Moni Arkadiou is celebrated. During the uprising of 1866 they preferred to blow themselves up rather than surrender to Turks.

Sultanina, Siteia, 16-20 August

It is festival celebrating the grapes harvest, with music, dancing and local wine in the old Venetian fortress.

Epiphany, 6 January

Epiphany in Greece is called Theofania or Fota. The evening before the Epiphany, The Enlightenment takes place in churches and the houses. Priests bless all the houses, shops and offices holding a basil (for blessing) and people start feeling the enlightenment. On the 6th of January, the day of the Epiphany, celebrations are carried out near harbours with a large participation of people. The priest blesses the boats which gather in the main harbour of every city and he throws a cross in the sea. Then willingful swimmers try to catch the cross to become especially blessed.