Away from the churches and amid strict lockdown restrictions, Greeks celebrated Jesus Resurrection on their balconies, holding white candles and watching thousands of fireworks illuminating the night sky. On Easter Sunday, they stayed at home enjoying the traditional Easter table in narrow family circle without relatives and friends. The government had tightened the measures over the long Easter weekend and doubled the fines to 300 euros.
Video: Fireworks on Resurrection Saturday in Athens
Resurrection services were largely performed behind closed doors in empty churches. Some priest like the one in Evia who opened the doors despite the ban, had to interrupt the service when neighbors called the police.
In Neapoli, Thessaloniki, a priest walked through the suburb to bring over to the faithful the joyful message of Jesus Resurection.
The government had repeatedly warned that “the Easter lamb will be baked in the oven this year.”
But many ignored the “official” cooking recipe, set the charcoal on fire as early in the morning, and started to roast lamb and kokoretsi on the spit in gardens, rooftops, balconies and yards.
For those unable to roast a lamb there was a …virtual roasting.
— ☥ VSS ☥ (@Vss2020_) April 19, 2020
Others, like in Kordelio Thessaloniki, defied the social distancing and performed folk dances after the Easter lunch.
Top song in coronavirus Easter about lockdown and head of Civil Protection: “I asked Hardalias where should I celebrate Easter.”
Some elderly danced with a flower top on his head and a wine glass in his hand.
Breaking with the tradition of flocking to the countryside, summerhouses, villages and islands had the effect that neighborhoods in the big cities like Athens remained full of people who stayed and celebrated in their homes.
It was the first time since decades, to see so many homes and balconies in our neighborhood lighten up on Saturday midnight at Resurrection time. People were standing on their balconies, holding the Easter candles lit not with the traditional Holy Fire that was not permitted to be distributed this year, but with a simple lighter.
In Neos Kosmos district of Athens, the local anarchists welcomed with Resurrection with their own tradition: molotov cocktail bombs.
If looks as if the majority of people complied with the restrictions. Some could not but violate them, though. From Saturday morning to Sunday early afternoon, police fined with 300 euros 137 people who were found driving outside their residence area. In 90 cases, license plates were removed for 60 days.
In the same period, 981 people, pedestrians that is, were fined with 150 euros for “necessary movement.” These are cases where people do not have the necessary movement permit and or identification documents with them, or have given a false reason for being outside.
In both categories, Attica was top.
You can place the Greeks in lockdown, but you can’t take the Easter traditions out of the Greeks.