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General News

Greek Easter: A Day That Brings the Greeks Abroad Back Home

Warmth, compassion, and faith define Greek Easter around the globe as it is the time of year where families join, meals are spread, and churches are filled, celebrating the miracle of the Resurrection. Seen as the most important religious feast of the year, its customs and traditions have been part of Christianity for two thousand years.

One of the greatest ties between Greeks and their culture is religion. During this sacred period, churches around Greece flood with individuals who are ready to experience the services that are epitome of their Christian practice. There is also a large population of Greeks living abroad who have enriched the international community not only in the field of culture, but also medicine, technology, arts, and academia.

Vienna’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in the historic Greek neighborhood of Innere Stadt. Photo by Bwag via Wikimedia Common

According to estimates of the General Secretariat of Hellenes Abroad made in 2021, there are more than 5,000,000 people of Greek origin that live outside of Greek borders, scattered around 140 countries around the world.

The countries that house the most people of Greek descent outside of Greece are the United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, and Albania, with multiple other European countries making the lineup.

Eleana Pamballi, a Greek Cypriot who moved to Liverpool, England at the age of 17, after spending most of her childhood in Cyprus spoke to TNH regarding her experience.

Since 1963 the cathedral has been the seat of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Austria. Photo by Dguendel via Wikimedia Commons

“Easter celebrations with my family have always been central in my upbringing, therefore attending an orthodox church in Liverpool made us feel attached to our roots and religion,” she mentioned, adding, “As people back home would take the streets of Larnaca with their holy light, we would do the same.”

This year Pamballi found herself visiting Canada during Easter time. The Old Calendar Greek Orthodox Church Annunciation of Holy Mother & Saint Nektarios in Montreal was where she celebrated Holy Week.

“Spending Greek Orthodox Easter in Canada, a country so far away and so different than home felt surreal. The struggle and uneasy feeling of having to find a church just to be able to feel a little closer to Greek-Cypriot traditions at this time of the year was all a part of my mini adventure here in Montreal. Once I had arrived at the church and the service had begun, any feeling of uneasiness left from within as I felt a small piece of my homeland entering my heart in that moment,” Eleana Pamballi told TNH.

Holy Saturday in Canada, Montreal at the Greek Orthodox Church Annunciation of Holy Mother & Saint Nektarios. Photo by Eleana Pamballi

In another part of the world, Austria, we find a smaller population of Greeks, with the number varying between 5,000 and 18,000 people. In Vienna one of the most visited churches is the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.

Alex Sobko, an international student from Ukraine spent his high school years in Cyprus and is currently continuing his higher-level studies in Vienna.

“After having lived in Cyprus for over a decade, not only have I been familiar with the Greek and Cypriot values and its language, but I have formed a connection with its culture,” Alex Sobko told TNH.

“As a Ukrainian, my family is devoted to religion. We are Christian Orthodox; therefore, Easter and Christmas have always been important to gather and celebrate. The church symbolizes the idea of unity and warmheartedness, so even though I’m away from home it is a way for me to keep connected,” he added.

Even though not a Greek himself, Sobko’s Ukrainian roots led him to Vienna’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church during Easter.

Greek Easter is celebrated in churches around the world. Photo by Despina Galani

“Personally, I had a pleasant experience by diving into the Greek world without having to fly to a different country. It was like teleporting to another universe that felt so close. I found it particularly interesting that by entering church it’s like you entered a cultural bubble, where access to the other cultures is not restricted, yet you have your own rules and customs that govern the place,” he stated to TNH.

Religion and culture have the power to spiritually transport people closer to home, wherever they may be in the world. No matter the place, the traditions and customs are what will keep these communities alive.

 

 

 

 

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