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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Greece Series at GreekPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Greek holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 12- Great and Holy Saturday. In Greek, it's called [Μεγάλο Σάββατο]
The Great and Holy Saturday is dedicated to the burial of Christ and His descent into Hades, or in Greek [Άδης]. This day is always celebrated the day before Easter, as is the last day of the Holy Week. During this day, Christians prepare for the joyful message of the Resurrection, which is celebrated in temples at midnight.
In this lesson, we will see the customs that are performed all over Greece on the day of the Great and Holy Saturday.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Which is the most important feast of Orthodoxy: the Resurrection of Christ, or Christmas?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Before his death, Jesus had spoke of His coming resurrection. To prevent this from happening, Jesus’ condemners sealed off His tomb with a heavy stone and stationed guards outside. While Jesus’ body laid in His grave, His soul descended into Hades to preach repentance. Some days later, the Myrrh-bearers wanted to visit the grave as was custom, but were met with an empty tomb. Jesus had resurrected as He had foretold. According to the Scriptures, this resurrection occurred three days after his death.
Nowadays, a liturgy takes place on the morning of the Great and Holy Saturday, announcing the Resurrection. At midday in Jerusalem, there is the ceremony of the lighting of the Holy Fire or [Άγιο Φως], which is distributed throughout the Orthodox world. In Greece, late at night, Christians make their way to church bringing tall candles or [λαμπάδες] with them. Shortly before midnight, the lights are switched off, and the Holy Fire, starting with the Priest, is passed from candle to candle, until all of the candles of the people present are lit. At exactly 12 o'clock, everyone chants [«Χριστός Ανέστη»], which means “Christ is Risen”, followed by hugs and kisses, fireworks, and the sound of ringing bells.
Families then return home, keeping their candles burning the whole way. If a candle accidently blows out, the Holy Fire can be relit by using the candle of a passerby. Before entering the house, a cross is formed on the threshold of the door using the smoke from the candle. Later, a vigil light is lit by the Holy Fire, which is left to burn for as many days as possible. Finally, Great and Holy Saturday concludes with the cracking of red eggs and the eating of [μαγειρίτσα], a traditional soup that includes lamb offal. They also eat Easter shortbreads and a type of brioche called [τσουρέκι]
In the temples of the Virgin Mary, of St. Mark, and the surrounding houses of [Vrontados] in Chios, metallic grids are set in place as protection against the "rocket war" or [ρουκετοπόλεμος] that begins after the Resurrection between the two parishes. It's an incredible sight that is well worth experiencing!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Which one do you think is the most important feast of Orthodoxy: the Resurrection of Christ or Christmas?
The celebration of Jesus’ birth through Christmas or [Χριστούγεννα] may be considered by many the most important holiday of the year, but for Orthodox Christians, Jesus’ Resurrection takes precedence, as it proved that He really was the Messiah, or [Μεσσίας].
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you have similar customs in your country where fireworks and firecrackers are used?
Leave us your comments on GreekPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.


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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

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Monday at 06:30 PM
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Do you have similar customs in your country where fireworks and sparklers are used?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 05:13 PM
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Hi George,

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George W
Saturday at 03:05 AM
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A very enjoyable lesson! Great to learn of the Christian customs.