If you’re looking for ideas for the fast-approaching May bank holiday, take a second to think about Greece. Not only is the weather heating up, there are great deals to be had because it’s early in the season, and in early May Orthodox Easter is well under way so you can immerse yourself in something really different. So, grab the chance and get a first hand experience of the Corfu’s customs and traditions.
Easter celebrations in Corfu are a really special experience for visitors. During this time, various aspects of Corfiot traditions come together. You’ll find pagan tradition, Orthodox faith, the Catholic community, Venetian influences and marching bands all blending in with the Corfu Spring.
During Holy Week (Megali Evdomada) visitors can experience the many events that take place, just bear in mind that many of these are religious ceremonies, and should be treated as such. The grand finale of the Corfiot Easter customs is the breaking of the ceramic jugs (kanatia).
This custom takes place in the Old Town of Corfu, where all the balconies and jugs are adorned with red ribbons. As soon as the bells of the first Resurrection ring at 12 o’ clock sharp, Corfiots throw the jugs filled with water off the balconies. The custom dates back to the Venetian occupation of the island. For the people of Corfu the breaking of the ceramic jugs signifies the end of winter, a new beginning and the birth of spring. Visitors usually keep a piece of the broken jug for luck.
Another Easter custom of Corfu is Mastela. According to the tradition, residents of Corfu put a wooden barrel tied with ribbons and myrtles outside their houses and urge passers-by to throw in some coins. At the end of the day, when the Resurrection bells ring, somebody has to dive in the barrel and take out the coins. Oh, we wouldn’t mind that job!
Also, because Orthodox Easter falls late this year, the lucky visitors of Corfu can celebrate the 1st of May (May Bank Holiday) in that all beautiful lush green scenery by having a picnic in the central Spianada square or on one of the superb beaches to soak up all the sun, sea and sand they can handle. Corfiots, and in general all Greeks, celebrate this day with excursions in the countryside or by the beach, so it would be a great chance to interact with the locals.