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Easter in Corfu

15 March 2016 by News 424 Views
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If you only get one chance in a lifetime to visit Corfu, you'd better choose spring and especiallyEaster week . It is the time when Corfu brings out to light all its natural and cultural beauty. You will feel overwhelmed by the flowers, you will feel surprised by the green, you will be taken away by music, you will get unprecedented feelings by the religious and celebrating events. It is the only place on Earth where you can experience Spring getting inside your very existence, where you can enjoy so strongly the atmosphere of the most important celebration . Easter here isbright beyond all expectations.

Natural beauty, culture and tradition, The East and the West, both together form a mosaic of culture, customs and language . Easter in Corfu presents this very peculiarity, customs and traditions which can be traced back to the Western and Eastern culture, in pagan customs which date thousands of years in the past. Celebrations which give a new breeze of life to the islands , rising them in a crescendo of joy and enthusiasm. The most distinctive characteristic of Easter in Corfu is the concerts of classical music and opera, church music, a typical tetraphony deriving from, Crete of the 1700s which initiates all Christians, giving strong emotions to both locals and foreigners.

The Easter period begins here, as in any other place,on Palm Sunday. At 11 o'clock in the morning takes place the procession of the holy body of Saint Spyridon. It is a custom dating back to 1630 , in memoriam of the relief of the island of the Plague, which, in 1629 , had claimed many victims from the people of Corfu. All 15 philharmonic bands of the island take part in that procession. At lunch people enjoy the traditional dish of the day: stock fish or haddock with garlic-tasting mash potatoes.

On Good Monday

All town gives off the perfume of fogatsa (a kind of brioche decorated with a red egg) and mandolato . In the afternoon of Good Tuesday, churches tell the story of Mary Madlene.

On Good Wednesday

The people go to the church to attend the Holy Unction.

On Good Thursday

Corfu is doing the last preparations for the celebration of Easter. At the churches, people experience with great respect the drama of Jesus, his Crucification . In the old town, at the headquarters of the philharmonic bands, they do last-minute rehearsals.

On Good Friday

the processions of a representation of dead Jesus (epitaph) begin early in the afternoon, based on a strict programme which derives on old protocols . At 2:30 in the afternoon there is the procession from the church of Agios Nikolaos at Faliraki . At 4 o'clock it is the procession of the church of Agios Georgios which begins from the Old Fortress and goes through the central roads of the town and the Liston alley. As time goes by, more and more processions come out and even meet at various points of the town. The procession opens with the Cross and the cherubims .
The choir comes next , singing honourable psalms to Jesus Crist, large fabric icons , standards (hangovers from the Byzantine era) and Venetian lanterns . At the epitaph processions take part schools, boy scouts and young girls, holding baskets of flowers . Late in the evening starts the procession of the last but most imposing epitaph, the one of the Cathedral . It is born by marine soldiers and all the priests of the town participate, as well as three philharmonic bands . The Philharmonic band of Corfu plays the "Adagio" by Albinoni , the blue Mantzaros Philharmonic band plays the " Marcia Funebre " (a mourning march) by Verdi , and the red Kapodistrias band plays the mourning " Suentura " (loss, damage) by Mariani .

Saturday

starts off with another procession of the holy body of Saint Spyridon, established in 1550 , when the Saint saved the island from famine . It is accompanied by the famous philharmonic bands of the island, which give unimaginable musical enjoyment . At the same time there takes place the procession of the Epitaph of the church of Saint Spyridon, a custom which originates from the Venetian ages. The philharmonic bands play Calde Lacrime by Michelli , Hamlet by Faccio and Marcia Funebre from Beethoven't Heroica .

At 11 o'clock just, the bells announce the "morning Resurrection", and Corfiot people throw ceramic pots off windows and balconies ρίχνουν . This noisy habit possible bears the influence of the Venetians who would throw old objects out of their window on New Years Day, so than the New Year would bring them lots of new things. Another, more likely , explanation is that the custom is of pagan origins. By smashing things and making loud noises the Ancient Greeks wanted to wake up Persephone, the goddess of spring , and accelerate the coming of Spring .

The Philharmonic bands come back into the streets and they play joyful music. At midnight all people go by thousands to the central squares of Corfu town and villages, to celebrate Resurrection with glory and typical customs .

 Easter Sunday

Begins with the procession of the icon of Resurrection around Corfu town and the villages, followed by the festive meal . Lambs on the spit , red eggs , sweet wine and mostly singing, music and dancing. The entire following week ("New Week") goes by with processions and celebrations on every island. Every single church does a procession of the icon of Resurrection , the standard , the cherubims and the Cross . Every time that the procession stops, people use small canons, to announce it. Those canons (maskoula) were widespread during the Venetian rule, and they were used at special viewpoints, in order to notify the surrounding area and Corfu town for the moves of pirates or enemy ships).

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