You don't need an excuse to visit Nafplio but if you are looking for one, then make sure you see the town during the wonderful period of Easter. A visit to this picturesque place is characterized by the smell of the salty sea air and the rich cultural surroundings, which at this time of year are augmented by the special ambience of Greek Orthodox Easter. Often occurring later in the year than Catholic Easter, it offers the opportunity to experience enchanting customs, many of which have their roots in ancient Greek celebrations of rebirth associated with spring.
The time leading up to Easter is known as Holy Week and when dining out, you will find that many restaurants offer special menus to accommodate fasting but also include traditional dishes. Insight into Greek customs and culture is easily achieved just by taking in the sights, sounds and smells around you.
On Thursday, you will catch sight of hard-boiled eggs being dyed red and as you stroll around the cobbled alleys, the scent of the blooming bougainvillea will give way to the warming aroma of baking bread. The traditional sweet holiday bread "tsoureki" is often flavored with orange zest or almonds.
A solemn sense of occasion is apparent on Friday evening in recognition of the resurrection; from Syntagma Square watch the processions from every church arrive carrying flower-decorated biers, while the warm spring breeze carries the fragrance of flowers throughout the streets.
As the week progresses the atmosphere changes, on Saturday anticipation is in the air and when evening comes you will witness a transformation.
People begin gathering at their local church around 11pm, lights go out but the darkness is punctuated by the lighting of hundreds of candles, the sounds of happy greetings and fireworks. The ringing of church bells can be heard for miles around. Families gather to break their forty-day fast with a specially prepared meal after midnight.
In contrast to the solemn reverence of the days before, you can feel the celebratory mood taking over on Easter Sunday, which becomes a feast where friends and family come together in high spirits to drink, talk and dance. Join the festivities by eating traditional roasted lamb and see the red eggs being smashed with one another. If your egg holds without cracking, you will be declared lucky!
Tags: Greece, Nafplio, Argolis, Argolida, Easter, Culture, Customs, Traditions, Food, Spring