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Easter (Pascha in Greek) is a major family festival in Greece and a significant celebration in the Greek Orthodox Church. It is celebrated in every corner of Zakynthos. Encompassing traditional customs, this Easter program includes cultural and gastronomic experiences throughout Holy Week, leading up to Easter. There will be hands-on cooking of Zakynthian delicacies, olive oil and wine tastings, trips to the countryside and seaside, plus traditional evenings out. Activities include dyeing hard-boiled Easter eggs and making Easter decorations you will be proud to take home.
Join your welcoming hosts for your holiday on this gorgeous Greek isle, away from the workload and rush of the rest of the world. Stay at Villa Spiros, located on the Ionian Island of Zakynthos, with access to lovely cafes, seaside tavernas, a great spa and beauty salon and just 300 meters from Laganas sandy beach.
During the Easter experience, you will attend the Resurrection parade, the midnight church ceremony on Holy Saturday, enjoy a traditional Mageiritsa dinner and eat spit-roast lamb on Easter Sunday. The week is full, but allows plenty of time to take siestas. This will be more than a holiday; it will be a memory to cherish, particularly impressive for first-time visitors to the island.
Please note, the following itinerary is for guidance only and subject to change depending on the season and group’s needs and wishes, but all the following activities will take place some time during the week.
You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your accommodation, then given time to settle into your new surroundings. You will be invited on a shopping trip to the nearby supermarket to stock up on holiday necessities.
Later, there will be a welcome meeting and buffet in the reception area. Your hosts, Effie & Antonio, Denia & Adriana, will be delighted to tell you about the traditions of Holy Week, outline the proposed itinerary and answer any questions.
Today, enjoy the traditions and special aromas of preparations for the Easter feast. Mid-morning, you start making Tsoureki, a sweet Easter brioche type of bread. You will see the special flour and spices used (one spice produced only on the island of Chios).
You’ll be grating the zest of oranges taken from the tree that morning. After an hour or so, the dough will be wrapped and left to prove until late afternoon, when you roll the dough and make plaited loaves, to be sprinkled with almonds and baked after a second proving.
By 7 p.m. the team will take you to the village of Macherado for dinner with local wine at Dennis’ traditional taverna. By the time you have eaten, worshippers will have started to arrive at St Mavra’s Church, opposite the taverna, for the Good Friday service.
You will join them, noticing that they kiss the icons as they arrive (do the same if you wish). The focal point is a wooden reproduction of Christ in the tomb. Ornately carved and richly painted, the village women cover it with flowers for today. Traditionally, people return to their home village for this service, so the church is full.
The service takes about two hours, with the congregation just listening to the church singers, sometimes standing, often going outside for a break and returning. In the last half hour, the priest wafts incense over the tomb, sprinkles it with holy water and flower petals from baskets held by village maidens in traditional costume.
He then moves through the large congregation wafting and sprinkling people, before they follow the decorated tomb out through the church doors. Then led by a uniformed band, the icon is carried through the village streets, the congregation following with lighted tapers, on a circular route back to the Church. A little more music and this unforgettable evening is drawn to a close.
Holy Saturday, with the Resurrection celebrated in the midnight service, is the most important day in the Greek calendar, and an amazing communal experience. Mid-morning, meet at reception to decorate hessian wrapped candles using flowers from the garden, ribbons, and twine. These are for you to carry at tonight’s celebration.
After lunch, you help Effie in her kitchen as she starts cooking tonight’s dinner. “Mageiritsa” (lightly cooked lamb offal, with rice and an egg and lemon sauce), and “Stifado” (beef in tomato sauce), “Frigania” dessert and you dye some red eggs to use in egg battles tonight.
Late evening, you go into Zakynthos town, which by 11 p.m. is filling up with people. From reserved balcony seats, you have a great view of the thousands who have gathered, all holding candles to be lit at midnight.
Now comes the silver band, leading a procession making its way to the podium dignitaries and priests, carrying icons and their own elaborately decorated candles. There is chanting and singing then a surge of sound as midnight passes and it’s Easter Day. All candles are lit (quite a sight to look down on) as the crowd wishes each other Happy Easter.
Then you make your way through the streets to the Vylthoukas’ family home, to share the first meat meal after Lent. There will be the traditional Mageiritsa Dessert and wine of course! You won’t be home before 2 a.m. but the sights, sounds, and tastes are unforgettable.
Easter Sunday is a day of joy and celebration, getting together with family and friends for eating, drinking, music, and dancing. You make an early start preparing the Easter Sunday feast by putting the lamb on the spit to roast slowly, preparing delicious Easter appetizers and decorating the table.
This day is also called Lambri (Brightness), celebrating the day of the resurrection of Christ. After your Greek Easter meal, you are welcome to join others to go to the picturesque port of Agios Sostis. There is a ceramic studio, small tavernas, coffee shops, and a seaside cocktail bar, where you can enjoy a coffee or your favorite tipple to relax you while the sun goes down on another spectacular day.
After breakfast, you set off for a monastery (strictly a convent, housing 13 nuns) just outside Macherado village. It was built by a local priest, who decorated it by hand with mosaic icons inside and out. The ceilings and interior walls also display huge murals painted by the nuns.
Then a short drive takes you to a vineyard and winery run by the third generation of the Grampsas family. It is beautifully presented, from the neat rows of vines to the display of winemaking equipment from bygone days. Son Tassos will talk you through the whole winemaking process before inviting you to sit on the shady terrace to sample white and red wines with local cheese.
That evening, you’ll take a stroll through Bohali, at the top of Zakynthos town. The view from this exclusive residential area is breathtaking, over the whole town and harbor and out to sea. Then you’ll have dinner in a harbourside taverna. Traditional Greek dished are served by the owner and his sons, who later in the evening sing Greek folksongs, accompanying themselves on the guitar and mandolin. You will feel you have discovered real Greek life.
Mid-morning, go with Effie to her favorite confectioner’s shop in Zakynthos town. The fourth-generation confectioner and shop owner will put on his apron to show you step by step how to make classic Baklava (almonds, walnuts, and spices folded into buttery filo pastry).
Effie will then take you on a gentle walk around her home town. The first stop is at the Church of the island’s patron saint, St Dionysius. The huge inside is richly decorated with gold and icons. The saint’s remains are here in a silver casket, which on some occasions is open for viewing.
Then, walk along the harbor and sample a local custard-type pastry from a street stall before walking through Solomos Square and hearing about the poet. Effie then takes you to St Mark’s Square to sit and watch the world go by outside her favorite coffee shop.
Batteries recharged, you are ready to hit the shops before a final stop for lunch at a traditional taverna. There’s a wide choice of food, but this is a good chance to try the famous souvlaki or gyros.
Spend the day at leisure as at noon, then you set off for the north. First stop is at an olive oil factory. See the display of machinery from the old days before touring the modern factory with your guide. In the end, is a chance to taste a variety of oils on village bread. Then it’s on to Ag. Nikolaos to take an amazing boat trip past caves and rock formations to the famous Shipwreck Bay for a swim.
Returning to port, you drive on to a welcoming traditional taverna with a world-class view over white rocks to the bluest of blue seas. The food here is produced on the owners’ farm and is a favorite with the locals.
Maybe a last stroll to town or the beach. Later, your driver will take you to the airport in good time.
Kallo Taxidi (safe journey)!
This Easter culinary holiday takes place in the beautiful Greek island of Zakynthos.
The following are included in the package:
You will also enjoy two Easter cooking workshops as well as olive and wine tasting.
The following activities are priced seasonally, but your hosts will get you the best prices while you’re there:
Zakynthos International Airport
Please book your flight to arrive at Zakynthos International Airport (ZTH). All transfers are included from Zakynthos airport or from the Zakynthos ferry terminal to the villa. Full, detailed directions will be shown on your booking confirmation voucher.
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