Corfu Easter (Rituals & Customs)

Festival near Corfu Town (2.8km ≈ approx.)

An Easter festivity that brings together Orthodox and Catholics. Botides is a custom - people throw clay vases from balconies while bands play music.

A huge crowd in front of the high buildings of the Spianada Square in Corfu wait to observe the custom of Botides.
photo: Manu / CC BY 2.0

Undoubtedly one of the most unique Greek Easter celebrations takes place in Corfu. This is because it involves a fusion of Byzantine along with Venetian traditions, all combined with local, interesting customs.

The celebrations start on Palm Sunday with the procession of the relics of St. Spyridon as a remembrance of the healing from the terrible plague that broke out in 1629. Walking around the streets of the city during the Holy Week the guest can smell something coming from all houses since almost every household bakes traditional sweets.

The whole week is dominated by events of traditional Byzantine hymns and ecclesiastical music. The most well-known are the music-poetry night on Holy Tuesday at the Old Palace and the festival of Ecclesiastical Music by the municipal choir on Holy Wednesday at the municipal theatre. On Holy Thursday in Duomo, the Catholic Cathedral on Municipality square, 12 candles are lit and they are blown out one by one every time one of the 12 Gospels is read.

On Holy Friday everyone can participate in the procession of the Epitaph, a custom that takes place all over Greece. Epitaphs from every church of the city meet in the central square, followed by choirs and philharmonic orchestras. Early in the morning of Holy Saturday, at the church of Holy Mary of Xenon, the custom of the "artificial earthquake" takes place and then follows the procession of the Epitaph of Saint Spyridon, since in 1574 the Venetians had forbidden the Orthodox to process Epitaphs on Holy Friday and this custom survived until today.

At 11 o'clock on Holy Saturday morning, the First Resurrection takes place and after that, the custom of "Botides" is taking place. During that, people living on the upper floors of houses in front of the Spianada Square throw clay pots and clay jugs from the windows breaking them. This is a custom Corfiots took from the Venetians, who used to throw old things on New Year’s Eve because the new year would bring new stuff to them.

On Holy Saturday’s night, Easter Vigil takes place in all churches of the island and when it is all finished, orchestras roam the city playing happy songs and initiate the celebrations that last until the morning. The celebrations of Easter are completed on Bright Friday at the church of Zoodohos Pigi, which is considered to be the first summer festival of the year.

About Corfu Easter (Rituals & Customs)

Last updated: 17 Aug 2020

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