The Greek Orthodox Church is one of the most important elements of the Greek heritage, and this is the reason many celebrations in the country are related to Christianity in some or the other way.
However, that certainly doesn’t mean that the Greek holidays and celebrations are un-energetic or boring in any way, as Greeks are really fond of dancing and feasting and don’t fail to incorporate them into their celebrations. In addition, Greeks love arts too, including dance, drama and film.
While every celebration in the country is significant for Greeks, the ones organized in the warmer seasons are even special for them as these seasons bring a different energy and excitement with them.
Greek Holidays and Observances
With the introduction to Greek holidays out of the way, let us discuss some of the most important Greek holidays and observances below.
Epiphany, January 6
This event is held to celebrate the day of Christ’s baptism. The port of Piraeus in Athens – along with all the nearby ports – witness large gatherings to celebrate this event.
The event involves the priest throwing a large crucifix into the water from one end, and young men jumping into the freezing water from the other end and racing to recover it. The one who gets to the crucifix first is the winner and is rewarded by the priest in the form of his blessing, but usually the other participants are blessed as well by the priest.
Thousands of people gather on the streets of Greece, doing nothing but just dancing and enjoying themselves as part of the pre-Lenten Carnival season that lasts for three weeks.
Greek Independence Day, March 25
As the name suggests, this event has to do with the Greek independence, and is held to commemorate the start of the War of Greek Independence of 1821.
A military parade is carried through one of the most popular areas of Athens, the Syntagma Square.
Feast of the Annunciation, March 25
On the same day when most of Greece celebrates its independence day, the islands of Hydra and Tinos celebrate the day in a religious manner in honor of the news that Mary would be the mother of Christ.
Holy Easter Week Celebrations, April or May
This is believed to be the most important holiday in the country, with church services and processions being held throughout Greece.
The midnight of Easter is marked by families visiting the local churches with candles in their hand. After the church processions, people feast on traditional foods for the rest of the day.
The last phase of these holidays is the Holy Thursday, where “The Last Supper” is reenacted in front of large gatherings at the Monastery of St. John the Divine located on the island of Patmos.
Art Athina Festival
This festival shows the love Greeks have for art, as it’s the longest contemporary art fairs in all of Europe, held in Athens in May.
Artists from across the world visit the fair to showcase their work to a large audience of over 30,000 people over a period of four days.
Athens and Epidavros Festival, June to October
One of the most organized festivals where different types of events like Greek dramas, dance performances, opera and more are held in different venues across Athens.
The Theatre of Epidauros in the Peloponnese is one of the biggest attractions of Greece, and has witnessed a long list of famous actors like Ethan Hawke and Helen Mirren during this festival.
Medieval Rose Festival
Reenactments from Byzantine and medieval times find the perfect venue in the medieval town of Rhodes to give shape to this unique festival. It also includes musical and art events that both entertain and educate the audiences.
Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin, August 15
This is a national holiday in Greece where thousands of pilgrims gather in Tinos in the search of special blessings or a miracle.
People crawl in large groups to the cathedral of Panagia Evangelistria.
The Sani Festival is one of the most popular music events in Europe where some of the most popular music artists come together to serve jam-packed venues in the Halkidiki peninsula of northern Greece.
One of the significant venues where these concerts take place is Sani Hill, which is a small islet surrounded by the Aegean sea.
Renaissance Festival at Rethymnon
This festival is similar to the many music and art festivals celebrated in Greece. It too hosts hundreds of international artists from the fields of acting, dancing and singing, performing in front of large crowds at different venues in the gorgeous Cretan town.
One of the most exciting Greek holidays, this festival lasts for about two months, starting in August every year. The most unique thing about this festival is that each performance revolves around the ideas and spirit of the Renaissance era.