An Easter Experience in Corfu

Considered by the majority of the Greeks to be the ultimate celebration of the year, Easter celebrations start on Palm Sunday each year in Corfu Old Town with a splendour and glory not seen anywhere else in Greece. The Easter traditions have a relationship with the beginning of Spring, highlighting the uniqueness that has made the Corfu Easter a pole of attraction for Greek and foreign travellers. A week full of brilliance, glamour and excitement make Easter in Corfu a truly special experience.

You shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see the procession of Saint Spyridon. On Palm Sunday, it is held in memory of the plague epidemic that took place in 1629. During this celebration, all 18 philharmonic orchestras of the island take part. While on Holy Monday, the city lights in Liston, the Palace and the streets of the island are illuminated in purple, with the same mourning colour as the Cross in the Old Fortress.

The Philharmonic Union “Kapodistrias”

At dawn on Holy Thursday, the Twelve Gospels are read in all the churches of the island, while in the Catholic Duomo there are twelve lighted candles, and every time one of the Gospels ends, it is extinguished by one. Also, the “Washbasin Ceremony” is revived which is the representation of the “washing of the feet of the Apostles by the Lord”. The Catholic Archbishop, as defined in the ritual, after the end of the 12 Gospels will wash the feet of twelve believers, usually children, thus representing the religious tradition, according to which Jesus washed he feet of his disciples.

The purple Venetian lights of Liston during Holy Week.

On Good Friday, the Epitaphios processions, during which the embroidered image of the dead body of Christ is placed on richly decorated biers that are carried through the streets have a very different colour, following an impressive ritual as they come out in a certain order and intersect in the Old Town Centre. However, the last procession which starts from the Orthodox cathedral at ten at night and is accompanied by a philharmonic orchestra and Venetian lanterns, catches the eye.

Taking a short break won’t hurt!
Those processions can last up to 3 hours!

The grandest and most dazzling celebration may be set up on Holy Saturday in Corfu. Starting at sunrise, an artificial “earthquake” occurs in the Church of Our Lady of Foreigners in a representation of the earthquake that occurred, according to the Bible, during the Resurrection. Afterwards, the Epitaphios of the Church of Agios Spyridon, the custom that began during the Venetian occupation, takes place, carrying the relics of Saint Spyridon around Corfu Town, in memory of the salvation of the island from famine. However, the Resurrection in Corfu takes place at eleven in the morning and all the locals and visitors are waiting on their balconies and windows to throw pots referred to as the “botides”,  full of water, with the music background of the bells of the churches ringing joyfully.

Pot throwing tradition.
Locals believe the custom helps ward off bad spirits!

On Easter Sunday in each Church, there is a procession of the Resurrection, and of course, the philharmonic orchestras have once again the honour of accompanying the Resurrection procession. After the end of the Sequences, the procession of the Orthodox and the Catholics begins, with a meeting point on the main square. Upon hearing the joyful message of the Resurrection, the city’s philharmonic orchestras will simultaneously play the “Graecoi” march in a spectacular atmosphere. Corfu will shine from the hundreds of sparklers that will fill the sky with colours and will be “poured” into the Ionian Sea, making Easter in Corfu unique and incomparable with the rest of Greece.

You will find musicians in every little alley of the Old Town!

TOP 5 Books to Keep You Inspired on Greece

1. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell .

What do you know about the real-life Durrells and their life on the island of Corfu?

My Family and Other Animals is Gerald Durrell’s memoir of his relocation from England to Corfu with his family in the years before World War II. Sweet and smart, the novel describes the flora and fauna of British naturalist’s new home in Greece in an exaggerated and funny way. He describes life in Corfu so vividly that the reader immediately wants to follow his example and relocate to a sunnier climate. Do you love binge watching TV series too? Don’t miss out on the highly recommend TV series The Durrells, based on the novel and the real-life events of the Durrell family when they resettled Greece .

If you become inspired to visit Corfu after watching the series or reading the book, you can create your very own Durrell trip to Corfu with us or experience one of our very special experiences in Corfu.

2.Walking in Athens by Nikos Vatopoulos

Discover Athens with an insider in this unique book of eclectic essays about the architecture of the city, stories of regenerating derelict buildings, and their hidden histories. All photos published in this book are part of the author’s lonely wanderings in various neighborhoods. Vatopoulos explores the changing architectural history of the city.

Enjoy a walk in Athens through our very popular walking tour, Faces of Athens.

3. It’s all Greek To Me:

From Homer to the Hippocratic Oath, How Ancient Greece Has Shaped Our World by Charlotte Higgins

The absolute guide in preparation for your trip to Greece and a brilliant textbook for beginners of Greek studies. 

The author captures the essence of Ancient Greece in an accessible style. She engaged the audience with the Ancient Greeks whose timeless material in the arts, philosophy, politics, theater, Olympic Games, architecture and mathematics still strongly influence the world. Want to learn more on myths and wonders of Ancient Athens next time you visit Greece?

Click here to discover Athens with our incredible tour experiences at the Parthenon, the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum.

4. The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller

Henry Miller, who was living in Paris at the time, ignoring the beginning of World War II decided to visit Greece in 1939, having secured the hospitality of the English writer Lawrence Durrell, who was living in Corfu.

Miller initially moved all around Greece without any specific schedule. He was impressed by his meetings with Greek intellectuals such as Katsimbalis, Seferis, Antoniou, Hatzikyriakos-Gikas, and Tsatsos. and ended up extending his stay. He only left Greece under the pressure of the US Embassy at the onset of World War II.

His impressions from the trip became The Colossus of Maroussi.

5. Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

This book is one of the most famous works of Nikos Kazantzakis, receiving an award for best foreign novel published in France in 1954 and has been named one of the 100 Best Books of All Time.

The plot of the play takes place in Crete, while the real Giorgis Zorbas transforms into the fictional face of Alexis Zorbas.

The story begins when the author and Zorbas, the two main heroes of the book, meet in Piraeus. The author, after being impressed by Zorba’s unconventional character and his constantly philosophizing passion for life, decides to hire him as a caretaker in his business.

While in Crete, they settle in the hotel of Madame Hortense, who soon becomes the mistress of Zorba – one of the many women of his turbulent life.

Zorba the Greek explores the beauty and pain of existence, inviting readers to reevaluate the most important aspects of their lives and live to the fullest.

After reading this book you will definitely be eager to create your very own itinerary in Crete by consulting our specialist tour designers team!