Easter customs and tradition in Zakynthos
Easter is celebrated in a special way on this island, with old traditions that are kept to our days.
Holy Week starts from the Saturday of Lazarus, when at 11 am the church bells ring loudly and people hung the “Vayi” on all the bell-towers of the city and the villages of the island.
“Vayi” in Zakynthos is not laurel, as in all of Greece, but the yellowish fresh palm leaves, with which people knit crosses, "vayiofores", suns or ponies to decorate churches.
On Palm Sunday, after the Divine Liturgy, the "nontsoli" (sacristans) are handing to all the houses “Vayi” as a blessing and people place them on their icons.
On Holy Tuesday evening, at the Holy Monastery of St. Dionysios, the Metropolitan Cathedral and Agios Nikolaos and Phaneromeni, in the city, we will hear the Kassiani’s hymn by their melodic choirs.
On Holy Thursday morning is the Vesper and the Divine Liturgy in the churches and after this the bells not toll until the morning of Holy Saturday.
On Good Friday morning is the Service of Great Hours and then the Deposition. It's the time the priest exits the sanctuary with Christ over his shoulder, wrapped in a white sheet. At noon, people gather in the church of St. Nicholas of Molos, and from there starts the only one in Orthodoxy procession of crucifixes.
Around 2 pm starts the procession of the Cross, at the time that according to the Scriptures, was the Crucifixion of Christ. Along with the crucifix comes and the famous image of «Mater Dolorosa» (i.e. "Virgin Mary of Passion").
The procession crosses Saint Markos square and the main road, reaches to Sts Saranda and returns back to Solomos Square. There, the Bishop blesses the clergy and the people with the crucifix in the four cardinal points.
Then follows the Deposition of Christ in the epitaph and there the “Amnos” is worshiped, the two-sided hagiography on wood representing the dead Christ and replaces the embroidered epitaph that exists in all of Greece. On the island, the epitaphs are elaborate, carved in wood, lined with velvet and gold leafs. For this reason, they are not adorned with flowers. On the evening of Good Friday takes place, as in all the churches, the Lamentation of Epitaph, but without the procession of the Epitaphs.
Those, in mood for jokes, of course, follow the mores and the customs of the place, find the opportunity to change the signs of shops or to move objects to another point or at the square.
People are gathering at St. Markos’ Square to celebrate in a different way the first Resurrection. They are making a big circle and are waiting with a clay pitcher in their hand. Just after the first toll of the bell, they begin to break the pots in the center of the circle. Many throw coins for good luck.
On the night of Holy Saturday, at around 23.15, starts the Liturgy in the Cathedral. At 23.45 begins the Resurrection procession to St. Markos Square, where the Resurrection takes place. The "Christ is Risen" is sung in Zakynthos’ peculiar ecclesiastical music. Immediately after, the icon returns to the Cathedral. The Liturgy of the Resurrection is not performed immediately after in any church of the city or the villages, but in the morning of Easter Sunday.
On Easter Sunday in taverns and in the large hotel complexes, people bake lambs and the dance lasts as long as the soul withstands... In the afternoon is the “Vespers of Love” in the Church of St. Lazarus in the city and the procession of images of Virgin Mary Galanousa and of Resurrection.
On Easter Monday we will go to some of the mountainous villages, where there are festivals of traditional color. In the afternoon, in the town of Zakynthos is the procession of the image of Our Lady of Laourentena from Psiloma (Bochali) to the church of Holy Trinity.
Easter in Zakynthos is undoubtedly unique! With good company and good mood, it is certain that this trip will remain unforgettable...
For your stay in Zakynthos island, you can book a room in one of the hotels and Bed & Breakfast inns.
In Zakynthos town, as well as in many other areas of the island, there are hotels and accommodations of various categories and types (rooms to let, residences, Bed & Breakfast inns, studios, hostels, guesthouses and furnished apartments) that can satisfy every visitor's demands and needs for a pleasant and enjoyable stay.
You will find wonderful hotels, rooms and apartments to let of all categories and price ranges.
The distance from Athens to Kylini is 305 km. and there are bus routes every day with trip duration 5 hours approximately.
From the port of Kylini. Trip duration is 1 hour and 15 minutes. Distance: 18 nautical miles.
Also there is coastal link with Kefalonia.
There are daily flights from Athens, flight duration is 45 minutes.
Dionysios Solomos Airport is located in Ampelokipi region just 4 km far from Zakynthos town.
During summer season there are also charter flight and many flights to and from other countries.
For your convenience, you can use the route map on the field “Routes” with information about the mileage, the time you need and the route you will follow, selecting the points of interest.