This is the first post in Travefy’s new “Learn about destination” series, which allows writers to explore local culture and customs in many popular vacation spots. In this post we explore Greece and Holidays in Crete.
An important part of Crete’s folk traditions are the Orthodox holidays, however holidays extend well beyond those “traditional” ones. The rich and long history of the island also leads to many village holidays that date back to the Minoan culture. Because of this, the island has also a holiday for the glory of God, for the glory of nature and harvest in addition to the orthodox holidays of Christmas, Shrovetide, Easter, Epiphany, and more.
Photo Credit: by Fiore S. Barbato via photopin (cc)
Traditionally, Christmas is a family holiday full of serenity and comfort. For Christmas Cretans set table with dishes of traditional cuisine and give presents to each other.
Shrovetide is held on the last week of eating meat food. On Maundy Thursday all Cretans launch kites to the air. And in the last day of Shrovetide they organize carnivals. The most magnificent Carnival is held in Rethymno. Almost all the island is always there that day.
Easter is the most important holiday of the Orthodox Church. On Good Friday the epitaph is decorated with aromatic flowers and they hold a procession. During Bright Week people prepare for the feast of Resurrection and attend church services. At midnight on Holy Saturday Resurrection is committed and churchmen are coming with lighted from the Holy flame lamps to their homes and then sit down to holiday table. There you will taste Easter soup and will beat the colored eggs. People also go to the countryside and there they roast lamb on a spit according to the ancient folk recipe. Such way people celebrate the arrival of spring and Easter Sunday.
The 15th of August is the Dormition of Our Most Holy and Glorious Queen, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary. On this day all the island inhabitants go to church. Holiday brings together people of all ages.
They also celebrate Saints’ days at Crete, especially those, who are patrons of the cities and villages. They hold festivities and traditional Cretan tablefuls with folk dancing at all island’s plazas. Those people, who live in mountain villages, go on a pilgrimage to peaks.
New Year they call St. Basil’s Day. St. Basil is famous for his character and temper. Greek children leave a shoe on a doorstep, which St. Basil should fill with gifts, presents and sweets. A head of the family usually smashes a pomegranate on the stone wall. If seeds flies about it means that New Year will be successful. There is one more interesting tradition; guests leave a stone which is assignment to fix wealth of the home master.
A special day is wedding. Cretan wedding lasts for several days in a row. It starts from “leading away”: bridegroom and his relatives and friends, performing mantinades under the lyre, go to take a bride from home. After that they begin to dance Cretan dances, sing songs and to eat holiday dishes.
During summer and spring months peasants and stockbreeders hold festivals. It is worth to notice a sheep shearing. At this time families shear sheep and then have a banquet. During that time friends and relatives also gather near rakokazano and drink fresh tsikoudia.
Holidays is the best time for visiting this island and to acquainted with Cretans’ customs and traditions.
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