The scent of home-baked cookies and sweetbreads wafting on the air. The sight of designer-clad celebrities parading through maze-like alleyways. Locals singing sad gospels as they follow the epitaph’s procession. Shiny happy visitors drinking champagne cocktails on whitewashed verandas. Mykonians celebrating Christ’s Resurrection with traditional delicacies in grand family fiestas. And for the glamorous set, lamb on the spit on the beach served by girls in bikinis.
A mosaic of contradictory images that -somewhat miraculously- complement each other. Easter in Mykonos blends the traditional with the contemporary, sociability with devoutness, and ageless mystique with all nigh revelry, in a nothing short of spectacular combo.
To the mix add the weather with more often than not blue, sunny skies (though on Good Friday it mysteriously tends to be cloudy with sporadic rainfall!) and the rare sight of the island covered in a blanket of green before the dry spell of the summer.
Easter in Mykonos: Why visit at this time of the year
There is always a good reason to visit the island of the winds, but to spend Easter in Mykonos is one of the best. That’s why year after year Greeks and visitors in the know rendezvous here for a unique mix of crazy partying tied together with a taste of time-honoured customs that are still going strong. This is a spiritual as much as a festive occasion that marks the commencement of the season. And that we at the Semeli best 5 star luxury hotel in Mykonos Town are lucky enough to enjoy every time.
Thinking of following the lead of true Mykonos aficionados? To help you prepare for your visit here’s the scoop on some of the most fascinating experiences in store for you during Easter in Mykonos:
Easter in Mykonos: Old and new-traditions that are bound to captivate you
Easter is connected with pagan rituals that accompanied the arrival of spring, so many of its traditions predate the Christian era. One version stipulates that the name Easter stems from Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon deity of springtime. Easter is also associated with the Jewish festival of Pesach, signifying the eternal passover from death to life and from earth to heaven.
In Mykonian tradition the Easter season kicks off forty days before Easter Sunday at the beginning of Lent. On the first Saturday after Clean Monday, locals gather in the antique Monastery of Ano Mera to accompany the procession of the icon of Panagia Tsourliani -the island’s patroness- to Chora. Despite the not insignificant two hour walk, no one misses this congregation. The historic painting is reinstated to its original position on Lazarus Saturday, again with locals escorting it on foot.
On Palm Sunday locals and priests gather at the church of Saint Helene on the Castle, Chora’s old cathedral. The sacred icon is paraded around town, while children carry handmade wreaths knitted from palm tree branches.
The following Holy week sees a flurry of activity, as homemakers and island bakeries prepare lazarakia, a dough model of a man representing Lazarus who raised from the grave, with his hands crossed and his eyes made from gillyflowers, sugar, raisins and a garland on the head, and lambrokouloures, a sweet local bun adorned with red eggs, symbolizing the blood of Christ.
Good Friday is a day of intense sorrow and mourning. Locals partake in the drama by refraining from eating sweet things for the love of Christ, who was given vinegar to drink. No one handles a hammer or nails (as it would be a great sin!) while bakeries make a cross-shaped bread which is to be cut only by hand.
On Good Friday women chant the bewail song of Virgin Mary throughout Mykonos churches, while as dusk falls, the lavishly decorated epitaph (the bier of Christ), takes into the streets of every village and town.
In Chora there are actually four processions occurring concurrently and between them (unofficially) competing for the most impressively flower-adorned masterpiece. Make sure to follow these fragrant, musical parades around the town’s maze-like alleys. Blending the theatrical with the metaphysical and springtime’s alluring beauty, it is an experience you’ll remember forever. Afterwards, have a ceremonial drink or two at Semeli the Bar and Bao’s Cocktail Bar at Little Venice, as the rather more modern, albeit equally respected, tradition mandates!
On Holy Saturday locals and tourists alike attend the midnight mass taking place in the at the monastery of Palaiolastro and at the Metropolis of Alefkandra to receive the Holy Light which comes all the way from Jerusalem. Then as fireworks light up the sky, and people embrace each other to confirm that Jesus was indeed resurrected it is time to rejoice and party.
It all begins with a preliminary feast signifying the end of the Lenten fast: This features the traditional Easter Mageiritsa– a tripe soup made from lamb entrails, greens and egg -lemon sauce– served in the homes and restaurants across the island. Try our delectable version at Thioni restaurant, and then hit Mykonos town’s bar and clubs as all-night merrymaking is in order. Begin with cocktails at the Semeli Lobby Lounge Bar, then move on to the heart of the action at Little Venice’s Sanctus and at the uber fashionable Toy Room for champagne and dancing until the morning.
Sunday brings about the culmination of the Easter period, with massive family and friends gatherings. Lamb on the Spit is customarily served throughout Greece and has also become popular in Mykonos. The twist here is that it is roasted on the sands of glamorous beachside venues and fetchingly brought to you by girls in their bikinis! Onion pie, kopanisti cheese and the famous Mykonian sausage, louza, are also on the menu, to ensure that you get your fair share of fat after 40 days of fasting. But who’s to question the wisdom of tradition? After all, you might as well revert to dancing to keep these calories off! Later on, if you have some energy left, around dusk, head to the town’s square to partake in the age-old ritual of the burning of Judas along with the locals. Then it is party time as usual…
Easter in Mykonos is indeed hectic, so you’ll need all the stamina and strength that you can muster. With this in mind choose carefully where you’ ll stay: You’ll be needing proper rest and loads of pampering in between festivities, to cope with the frantic schedule. Tucked in a fairly central, yet quiet corner of Chora, the Semeli Mykonos luxury Hotel blends impeccable style with ultimate comfort and indulgence: Keeping up with the zeitgeist all rooms and suites sport the latest creature comforts, while the hotel’s grounds include a host of state of the art facilities, such as the soothing Aegeo Spa or the starlit pool. To complement its superior aesthetics the Semeli, one of the best hotels in Mykonos, comes with an unsurpassed level of service and amazing food and drink, to ensure that you’ll only wish for more. We cordially invite you to come and celebrate Easter with us!