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article imageEaster, with a Greek flair Special

By Alexandra Christopoulos     Apr 17, 2012 in World
A week after most signs of Easter begin to fade, the celebrations have only yet begun for the Greeks. Although the bunny has hip hopped away for another year, Greek Easter, rooted with its own history and traditions, is also a major affair.
Said traditions start with the dates that Greek Easter typically falls on. As the majority of Greeks are Orthodox, those honouring the day usually celebrate a week after mass is held for many Christians.
Leading up to the day, there is as much excitement and anticipation beforehand. From the baking, fasting and dying of bright red eggs (to name a few observances) chef and food blogger Peter Minakis explains why Greek Easter is like no other.
"Nobody celebrates Easter the way the Greeks do," he says, recalling some of his early memories. From the solemn Good Friday, where it is not uncommon to witness the entire church flooded by candle light, to mark the funeral of Christ, to the promise of the resurrection on Easter Sunday, every moment is observed with family, friends and a sense of rejuvenation in mind.
"Put that altogether and you've got a great celebration, " says Minakis. Another important focal point, of course, is the food.
"When you sit around a Greek table, there is always more than enough," he laughs. " You don't want that shame of running out of food; that's unheard of for us."
Minkakis, who authors the blog Kalofagas, says each region in Greece commonly has their own recipes and added flares for the centre piece of the meal, lamb.
He recalls some of his earliest and favorite memories were of those watching the lamb on the spit in a neighbours backyard. He adds, after four to five hours, one can tell when the meat is cooked because it will appear cracked.
"Charcoal will take longer to roast, but that is ideal. You want a nice and slow roast," he says. The other secret to a succulent feast, he adds, is to keep it simple. Oregano, salt and pepper, or lemon (for basting) will usually do. But, don't use too much lemon, as the juices can dry out the meat, and dried oregano will burn.
So as not to shock one's body after foregoing meat for Lent, the Greeks also make a special soup to help prepare the body to eat the rich foods that are reserved for the special occasion. Made of vital organs, such as the brains and guts, Minakis says in some cases, the traditional soup is scientifically proving to help coax the body after such a spare diet.
But if that isn't your fare, there is almost always an abundance of "tsoureki" or sweet bread laying around.
After setting the table, many Greeks have fun sitting around with friends and family, talking, drinking and dancing.
"We all respect our faiths in different ways," notes Minakis, "but for the Greeks, Easter usually takes on a double meaning. Yes, it is the most significant day in the church calendar, but there is also spring time and that brings on a sense of new life and zest as well."
More about Greek easter, Greek orthodox, Food, Family, Easter