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Being Respectful During Orthodox Easter

Hi everyone,

I am travelling to Greece for the first time and the first part of my trip is during Orthodox Easter. I am arriving in Athens on Thursday April 21st, and then flying to Crete on Saturday April 23. After Easter weekend I am also going to visit Santorini and Mykonos. I'm staying in hostels for the entirety of my trip. I've seen a few posts regarding how to celebrate Easter but I'm personally concerned about being respectful during this time. While I am really hoping to engage in all the traditions possible, but I also don't want to be intruding on the locals or be disrespectful by accident.

Here are my specific concerns:

  • As a woman, how should I be dressing during this time? Please note that I am backpacking so I won't have a lot of clothing.
  • How should I behave? Obviously I will be respectful, but is there anything that I might not know is disrespectful?
  • What is the best way to engage with the locals during this time? I've heard local greek people are extremely friendly and I'd love to be able to celebrate Easter with them authentically, but of course I don't want to annoy/intrude on them. Will locals be ok with me asking to join them?
  • Lastly, is it ok to just join in on the events? Like for example, the Saturday midnight service, can I buy a candle somewhere and just arrive at the church (any tips about church etiquette would also be appreciated as I'm not religious)?

Thank you in advance for any advice you may have, I just want to make sure that I am being respectful as a guest in Greece. Any other general advice is also welcome :)

Posted by
2464 posts

One thing I know here about the Greek Orthodox churches is that women do not wear pants. Even to this day many wear skirts or dresses. While some of the younger people - under 30 - might wear them on a Sunday, they wouldn’t on Easter.
As a side note, Rick’s Monday Night Travel is profiling Greek Easter on Monday April 18. This might help with your questions.

Posted by
263 posts


You will arrive on Holy Thursday, it is the day of preparations for Easter.
You will see red eggs, the eggs symbolize life while the red represents the blood of Christ.

The next day, Friday evening, there are processions.
You can join this procession, even if you are not a believer.
At the end of the procession the pope gives blessed flowers that you can bring back to protect your home.

Saturday evening, you will be in Crete. There is an evening mass (just before midnight)
At exactly midnight, the pope announces the resurrection, even if you are not a believer you can attend mass
Also you can buy a candle to participate in this celebration and keep it lit in order to bring it home.
There will also be fireworks.
After mass it's the end of the fasting

Easter Sunday, Lent being over, it's time for big meals (meat, and especially lamb)

Do not hesitate to join these events
Wear a long enough dress and if necessary something to cover your shoulders

Posted by
2464 posts

Oh, also be prepared for a lot of standing. Unlike in the Catholic Mass, the Orthodox stand for most of the Mass.

Posted by
263 posts

Sorry for the confusion but English is not my native language

Iin French the word used for an Orthodox priest is "pope" (the same word used in English for the head of the Catholic Church)

and the term "mass" (messe in French) is used for both Orthodox and Catholic ceremonies.
These are not copied and pasted, just differences in the use of words according to languages and countries