The Importance of Food to Celebrate Easter in Greek Communities

In Greek communities around the world there is a great importance placed in Easter and all of the celebrations around it. As with every other part of Greek life, food is a central part of this celebration, and if you are heading to a family event, a local Greek restaurant in London, or just eating at home with friends, you’ll want to make sure you have the right food in to celebrate and to feed everyone.

Easter is the most important holiday in Greece, and you can see ow important it is with the Carnival celebrations that begin around two months before Easter itself! As part of the Easter celebrations throughout this period you can expect a really big and tasty feed of course! There is plenty of tender lamb, pasta, cheeses, egg dishes and the like. Greek Carnival is just one long party over the course of two weeks. The parties and the dancing last long into each night, with plenty of eating and drinking alongside it.

11 days before lent, on the Thursday during Carnival, Tsiknopempti is the start of the last weekend where meat can be eaten before the fasting of lent begins. It is an extremely popular day for heading out to a restaurant with the family and basically feasting on as much meat as possible. That is why it is also known as ‘Grilled Thursday’.  The traditional idea is that Greeks try to consume enough meat on this day to last through all of lent.

Lent begins 48 days prior to Easter, with this period of reflection a time to put strong limits on certain items. During lent, many Greek people will not eat fish, dairy, meat, stop drinking wine, and even some cut down on their intake of olive oil. It is during this period of lent that Greek cuisine leans heavily on lentils, soups, and healthy breads. It is a chance to show some creativity with menus, and serve plenty of vegetable dishes. Lent begins on Clean Monday, with the church service on the Saturday night on Easter weekend the biggest night of Holy Week. After this important service, Greek people will go home with the family and eat a traditional Easter soup (called Mayerista and made of edible insides of young lamb, dill, rice, lemon, and egg), and Easter cake. Cheese, olives, braided bread, dyed eggs, spinach and feta salad, artichokes, baklava, and much more are seen on the Easter Sunday dinner table.

If you are thinking about celebrating Easter in style, just like Greek people do, take inspiration from some of the food you find within Hellenic cuisine, and if you are close to an authentic Greek restaurant, book a table and enjoy the Greek seafood, the meat, the salad, the cheese, and all of the delicious Greek food cooked in olive oil. Some of the finest Greek restaurants in London for example, continue to uphold the traditions of tasty Greek cuisine that has been passed down for generations, and it is at times like Easter that you really see the heart and soul of Greek cooking and the community coming together in one joyous occasion.