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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

2021 Easter in Earthquake Zone Larissa Greece

Catherine Tsounis
Catherine Tsounis
Contributing Editor The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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Covid-19 Pandemic and earthquakes inspired the Greeks of Larissa, Central Greece to renew their faith in 2021 Easter festivities. A 6.3 magnitude earthquake rocked western Greece on Wednesday, March 3rd. Tremors continued for several days, with continuous earthquakes, and buildings destroyed.  The provincial city with crumbled buildings endured severe economic hardship with a covid-19 lockdown. Homes are the Greeks’ main economic fortunes. All lost. What did they do? They went to their villages outside the city and renewed their Greek Orthodox faith in Easter services and customs.

The Epitaphio (tomb of Christ) decorated by young women, Holy Friday.

Dr. Isaak Papadopoulos shared his Easter moments at his village of Omorfochori, outside of Larissa with us through the internet. He is a researcher and academic who views 2021 as a chance for forgiving, reflection, and contact with his Faith. “It’s a time for pray and patience,” he said. I am happy that this year, we can celebrate Easter with my family at my village, Omorfochori of Larissa in Greece. Last year, we were in a lockdown context and no one could travel even to villages.”

Traditional mezedes (cuisine) in Good Friday evening meal after the epitaphio service.

Dr. Papadopoulos described the Easter customs of Larissa saying “This year, we all prepared traditional koulouria and tsourekia. We prepared Lazarakia on St Lazarus day and we sang the carols. We painted the red eggs. Every day, people go to church. Every day a different Evangelio (bible) is said. People pray, they have faith in God, and after a terrible earthquake period and within COVID context, they see Easter traditions as an escape. On Holy Wednesday, all people go to church for the Holy Eucharist. The priest blesses us and gives oil to the face and hands. On Holy Wednesday night, we go to church for the operation of the washbasin (blessed water). Through this, Christ teaches us humility and its significance.”

Celebrating Midnight Easter with candles lit by the Papadopoulos family.

Dr. Papadopoulos explained “Thursday, people attend church to hear the Twelve Gospels. They pray and live the crucifixion of Christ. The women decorate the epitaphio. On Good Friday, we all do the procession together. Saturday night, we go to church with candles to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection. Everyone is in fine clothing, holding candles, and praying. They crack red eggs and say Christ is Risen. On Easter Sunday, we barbecue the lamb. Everyone has a good time. All this is happening in Larissa of earthquakes and the virus. After a period of seismic vibrations, our minds and souls are close to Christ!”
Economic ruin through a natural disaster, economic lockdown, covid-19 pandemic, political crisis, and outside forces trying to rewrite incorrectly Greek history, has made the 2021 Greeks of Larissa stronger in their customs and faith. Aristotle says, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
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