23rd – 30th April 2019
Easter is the biggest event in the Greek Orthodox calendar and guests at the Mistral will have the chance to celebrate in true Cretan style. You will join local people as they listen to the chanting of Easter rituals and join processions following an effigy of Judas.
In Crete, many Holy Week traditions are seen only on the island and in no other part of Greece, such as red eggs and Easter bread. Throughout the Holy Week, the men collect and cut wood, marjoram, thyme and other shrubs and make a gully large enough to burn the effigy of Judas. On Holy Thursday, the effigy will cross the village whilst the women give old clothes to dress “Dirty Judas” which is stuffed with hay.
Holy Thursday also sees the women knead kalitsounia (handmade cheese pies), buns and lamprokouloures which is like a small pretzel with three red eggs at the centre. The red eggs symbolize Christ’s blood shed from the spear of the Roman soldier and is an expression of joy due to the spring and Resurrection of the Lord. Cretan tables are laden with olives, many types of cheeses (malaka, anthotiro, kefalotiri), vegetables, wild herbs, wine and of course, Tsikoudia or Raki.
Today we visit the remote 13th Century monasteries of Gouverneto and Agia Triada or the 16th Century Gonia Monastery in Kolymbari for a special evening Easter service where you can light a candle and savour the heady smell of Jasmine and roses. Here you will see a symbolic tree bearing four different citrus fruits representing the coming together of the nations.
Voukolies Bazaar in the morning brings together hundreds of vendors and people from all corners of Crete. This bazaar is unique to Crete and began at the time of Turkish occupation. It was one of the key areas for economic transactions and social relations, mainly trading in live animals and vegetables.
Join the dignitaries and people of Chania who, accompanied by a band playing the funeral march, process solemnly through the streets following an effigy which has lain in church all week. When it finally reaches the Cathedral, it is held aloft by the priests as the congregation passes underneath, touching it for a blessing.
Mistral guests will celebrate at a local church where just before midnight, the priest emerges carrying and ancient silver bible. On the stroke of midnight, the rituals come to a climax and the greeting “Christ is risen” is cheered by everyone. This is when the bonfire is lit and the macabre effigy of Judas is burned. The priest then lights the candle nearest to him, signifying the triumph of good over evil, and soon a forest of twinkling candles illuminates the scene. To bring good luck for the coming year, guests will carry their lighted candle back to the Mistral, stopping to make a sign of the cross over the doorway.
Preparations for the Mistral Easter feast begin early with a whole sheep and goat being roasted over a spit, as guests help to lay the long tables as family and friends arrive. The kitchen is a hive of activity all day with Mama Katerina baking special Easter cakes and dying hard-boiled eggs red for the custom of cracking them with friends. The feast continues for several hours and is accompanied by copious amounts of wine and laughter. Later in the evening, there will be traditional Greek dancing with live music.
The Greek Easter week is not something that most tourists have the privilege of experiencing first hand. Guests at the Mistral will be able to enjoy the true flavour of this special time by mingling with family and friends and taking part in the unforgettable and often moving Easter celebrations.
|Dates and Prices|
|Greek Easter 2019||Standard room
|23rd – 30th April 2019||1215€||1325€|
Repeat guests will receive a 5% loyalty discount. Prices include transfer from Chania airport , 7 breakfasts, 5 dinners (including wine and coffee), Easter Sunday feast, excursions and transportation costs. Prices do not include flights or travel insurance.