From lenten delicacies during the Holly Week to the food and drinks extravaganza on Ressurection Sunday, here’s a sample of what you’ll eat in Mykonos on Easter.
Mykonos is good life epitomised – and gastronomy is a key part of the experience. In the rich Cycladic culinary heritage, seasonality is what defines everything. Dishes vary according to the time of year, with locally sourced ingredients turned into unpretentious taste bombs in the hands of local cooks. In the case of the lengthy, 48-day Easter lent, faced with the restrictions of the Church and the cycle of nature, over the aeons, homemakers in Mykonos have become especially inventive. Meat, dairy, fish and eggs are off-bounds – but bloodless shellfish and crustaceans are allowed. So, they will boil or stew octopus, squid and cuttlefish with what’s in season; fry herbs with patty to produce marathokeftedes (fennel fritters); or prepare a lenten version of their famous Mykonian onion pie –in this case without the signature tyrovolia cheese.
If you find yourselves in Mykonos on Easter, of course, your choices when it comes to food will still be limitless. But it would be well worth your while to give these traditional dishes a go. Though Mykonos is one of the Mediterranean’s most cosmopolitan destinations, locals largely retain their time-honoured customs and rituals – especially during Pascha, the grandest celebration of the Eastern Orthodox world.
This is a uniquely magical time of the year, which brings together the spiritual, the theatrical and the metaphysical against the all-too-rare backdrop of Mykonos’ verdant landscape. Take advantage of our special offer and experience Easter in all its glory at the Semeli best 5-star hotel in Mykonos Town!
What to eat in Mykonos on Easter: The foods & the customs of the Holly Week
It all begins 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 – Mykonos’ patroness — to Chora. Despite the not-insignificant two-hour walk, the congregation is usually massive. The historical painting is reinstated to its original position on Lazarus Saturday, again with locals escorting it on foot. This is also the day for baking the lazarakia: A sweet, spicy bread without dairy, in the shape of a man representing Lazarus who was raised from the grave, with his hands crossed, his eyes from gillyflowers, sugar, raisins and a garland on the head.
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, with children carrying handmade wreaths knitted from palm tree branches.
The Holy Week that follows sees a flurry of activity, with homemakers and bakeries preparing more special treats: lambrokouloures are sweet buns with braids that stand for the Holy Trinity. They are also adorned with red eggs, symbolizing the blood of Christ. These are reserved for the table on Holy Saturday and the banquet on Easter Sunday.
Commemorating Christ’s descent from the cross, Good Friday is the most solemn day of them all. Offices and shops are closed, flags are at half-mast and bells ring a funeral knell. Locals partake in the drama by refraining from handling a hammer or nails and also avoiding eating sweet things for the love of Christ who was given vinegar to drink. The staple of the day is a soup with lentils and vinegar. Bakeries, moreover, make a cross-shaped bread which is to be cut only by hand.
According to a reinstated ancient custom, on Good Friday Mykonian women shall chant the bewail song of the Virgin Mary throughout the island’s churches. As dusk falls, the lavishly decorated epitaph (the bier of Christ), takes into the streets of every village and town.
In Mykonos Town, there are actually four processions concurrently occurring and between them (unofficially) competing for the most impressively flower-adorned masterpiece. Follow these fragrant, musical parades around the town’s maze-like alleys, for an experience that’ll linger long in the memory. Then another, altogether more modern, but equally established tradition, mandates a ceremonial drink or two at Semeli the Bar and Bao’s Cocktail Bar in Little Venice.
Holy Saturday, brings about a change of mood. The monastery of Palaiolastro and the Metropolis of Alefkandra are packed with locals and tourists from 11.00 pm. The service incorporates noisy scenes to scare away the demons trying to hinder the salvation of mankind. At the stroke of midnight, lights are extinguished and the congregation is plunged into darkness. Then the priest reappears holding aloft a lit candle. He shall pass his flame to the nearest worshipper and they shall in turn pass it on to the next one until the entire church is ablaze with burning candles. The church bells ring, and the sky is lit with fireworks. Jesus has been resurrected and the miracle of life is once again affirmed. It’s time to rejoice and party! Marking the end of the Easter Lent, mageiritsa, a traditional kind of tripe soup with lamb entrails, greens and egg-lemon sauce, along with wine, will be served throughout Mykonian homes and restaurants. Make sure to try our version at Thioni – based on a secret family recipe it’s a must-eat in Mykonos on Easter. The red eggs will be cracked too: The one who succeeds in breaking their companions’ eggs but keeps theirs intact will be blessed with good luck throughout the year. With your palates and bellies satisfied and appeased, the thing to do is to hit Mykonos town’s bars and clubs for all-night merrymaking. Begin with cocktails at the Semeli Lobby Lounge Bar, then move on to the heart of the action at Little Venice.
Easter Sunday brings about the culmination of the festivities, with massive family and friends gatherings across the island. Lamb on the Spit has gained popularity throughout Greece and Mykonos is no exception. But we are talking about an island that’s characteristically eccentric and avant-garde. So the twist here is that the lamb is roasted on the sands of glamorous beachside venues and fetchingly served by girls in their bikinis. Onion pie (non-lenten version, this time!), kopanisti cheese, fried livers, meatballs and the famous louza, are also among the delicacies you’ll eat in Mykonos on Easter. The point is to replenish the lost fat after more than 40 days of fasting – and who’s to question the wisdom of tradition? Later on, if you have some energy left, head to the town’s square around dusk to partake in the age-old ritual of the burning of Judas. The antique custom of Kounia celebrating love also revives in Mykonos on Easter Sunday. Then it is party time as usual…