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Celebrating Greek Easter

While Easter for many has come and past, the Greek community is getting ready to celebrate Easter this weekend, and their signature dishes will bring heavenly aromas to neighbourhoods across the country.

There is no denying that this year will be a little different; Greek Easter usually brings together families and communities from far and wide. But even though people will be celebrating in their own homes this year, the traditions and the dishes that come with them will still reign.

Greek Easter is a religious holiday that involves a lot of food! In fact, it’s their biggest religious holiday of the year. Midnight on Easter Saturday also marks the end of Lent, where an almost vegan diet is followed for 40 days. This is why roast lamb is the signature dish at Easter Sunday lunch.

We are all about food at Prahran Market, so we thought we would let you know a little more about this celebration.

On the Thursday, Greek Easter bread called Tsoureki is baked and the traditional red Easter eggs are dyed ready for the weekend. Freshly ground mastic (masticha), an aromatic spice from Chios Island, and mahlab (or mahlep), a spice made from ground cherry seeds, gives the Tsoureki its sharp and distinctive taste. The three braids of the bread symbolise the Holy Trinity.  

Usually, everyone would go to church on the Saturday night to celebrate the resurrection of Christ where the priest announces ‘Christos Anesti’ (Christ Has Risen), before returning home to play Tsougrisma. This is a game where people break each other’s red eggs by hitting them against each other. The one with the strongest egg is said to have good luck for a year.

To break Lent, there is a post-midnight meal. This is usually the traditional Easter soup called Mayiritsa with lamb and an egg lemon sauce. Though for some controversial, this soup uses the offal of the lamb for Sunday lunch.

And Sunday is when the feast truly begins!

The centrepiece of lunch is lamb – often cooked on a spit (but roasted in the oven is just as good!). It is sometimes eaten as Souvlaki or Gyros and accompanied by lots of different salads and Mezedakia (small plate foods). Kalitsounia (cheese pastry cups) are enjoyed as well – they are an Easter tradition in Crete.

Greek Easter Cookies ‘Koulourakia Paschalina’ are served alongside the Tsoureki and sometimes other Greek sweets.

So, although Greek families will be eating apart this year, still expect the most delicious aromas this Sunday as Easter is celebrated through food.

If you want to celebrate Greek Easter without lifting a finger, get in touch with our resident expert Sweet Greek to have your feast delivered. They have Koulourakia and Tsoureki in-store as well as red eggs – both actual dyed eggs and chocolate varieties!

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