The main gift given during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations are personalised candles. Other gifts to commemorate and also symbolise the crucifixion of Christ are new apparel, eggs and food for this most sacred and celebrated Greek Orthodox holiday. Easter is celebrated over the span of a week, Holy Week, and gifts can be presented on any day.
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For Greek Orthodox Easter, the traditional gift is a personalised and sometimes elaborately decorated candle called paschal candles, "labatha" or "lambades," symbolising the resurrection of Jesus. The candle is given by parents or godparents to a child, according to the Embassy of Greece. They measure small or large, up to 3 feet tall and are usually white or another light colour. They are often decorated with the child's favourite story or heroes, according to Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church. Easter is called Pascha, meaning Passover, in Greek. Candles used in celebrations and other events are also known as labades, lambathes or labathes.
According to the Saint Demetrios Green Orthodox Church, other gifts for children from parents or godparents could be new shoes or clothing.
Greek Orthodox Easter is usually celebrated with red-dyed eggs, which could be given as gifts. The belief is that the Virgin Mary dyed eggs red to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and to signify Christ's blood, according to the chiff.com. The eggs are called "Kokkina pasxalina avga."
In Greece, the eggs are rapped against the eggs of family and friends to see who ends up with a whole egg, symbolising Christ's breaking free from the tomb. The last one holding an uncracked egg is considered lucky, according to holidays.net. The red eggs are sometimes placed on top of traditional Easter bread.
Traditional Greek Orthodox Easter food could be given as holiday gifts, such as slow-roasted lamb, mayeritsa (soup made from lamb intestines), Feta cheese, tsoreki (Easter bread), pastries, honey sweets and wine or Greek liqueur ouzo, according to chiff.com. Food may be an especially appropriate gift as Greek Orthodox faithful will fast or not eat meat during Holy Week.
Greek Orthodox Easter is calculated on the Julian calendar, which is 13 days after the Gregorian calendar. The holiday should fall on Sunday after the first full moon after the spring or vernal equinox. Occasionally, the Gregorian (Eastern) Easter date and the Julian (Western) Easter date will coincide; 2010, 2011 and 2014 are some of those years.
Greek Orthodox Holy Week is the last week of Lent. According to the website Ambassade de Grèce, it begins with the Saturday of Lazarus, in which children go door to door singing the hymn "Lazaros" and collecting money and eggs. The rest of the week follows: Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.
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