Aegina

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Easter has many names in Greek, but they all refer to the age-old message of hope and victory of life over death, as well as the arrival of the light of spring after the darkness of winter. Life is renewed in homage to creation. The trees begin to bud and spread their branches, flowers spill over the fields and gardens in a scented sea of colour and the nightingales and rock thrush launch into their song of love.

In Aegina, Easter appears in all its finery as the sea quietens and the harbour fills with yachts and sailboats moored alongside the local fishing boats. Fields and gardens are a burst of colour, as poppies, daisies, freesias and roses burst into bloom, while neighbourhoods are flooded with the aroma of baking Easter biscuits and sweet breads on Holy Thursday.

Throughout Holy Week, the ouzeries and tavernas along the waterfront, both in town and beyond, do a roaring trade in tasty Lenten dishes, vegetable specialties and live shellfish. By noon on Holy Friday, the decorated epitaphios has gone to the Agia Eirini cemetery and the heart-wrenching sound of people quietly singing the familiar mourning hymn over the graves of their loved ones can be heard.

In the evening, three funereal biers trying to outdo each other in floral decoration, one from each of Aegina's main churches, begin their procession around the streets of the town. Eventually, they come together on the waterfront in front of the Town Hall among a throng of people holding candles.

The Resurrection at midnight of Holy Saturday is a time of joy and embracing. You can take part in the Easter experience either at a little out-of-the-way church or at one of the larger churches in town, from where it is easy to carry on to one of the bars or music clubs for a drink afterward or dancing till dawn.

On Easter Sunday, no matter where you go you, will come across lambs and kokoretsi slowly turning over a spit as families and friends get together to clink their glasses, enjoy the feast and lead a dance or two. For those looking for something a little different, there are two old customs revived every Easter.

One is the burning of Judas in the mountain village of Anitseo and other is the Easter dance, dedicated to the worship of youth and love, held in medieval Paleochora.

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