Saturday, September 18, 2021

Festivals & Holidays in Greece

EuropeGreeceFestivals & Holidays in Greece

The following days are national holidays:

  • New Year’s Day – 1 January
  • Epiphany – 6 January
  • Clean Monday (first day of Lent) – mobile
  • Independence and Annunciation Day – 25 March
  • Good Friday – mobile
  • Easter Sunday – mobile
  • Pasha Monday – mobile
  • May Day / Labour Day – 1 May
  • Whitsunday – mobile
  • Whit Monday – mobile
  • Dormition of the Theotokos – 15 August
  • World War II Day / “IHO(no) Day” – 28 October
  • Christmas – 25 December
  • 26 December – Boxing Day

The three most important holidays in the country are Christmas, Pascha and Dormition. Christmas is usually a private and family celebration, but lights and decorations adorn the squares of cities across the country. Dormition is a big summer festival for many towns and islands. Easter weekend is perhaps the most extravagant of all the holidays; the religious processions on Good Friday and the following Saturday night culminate in a boisterous fireworks display at midnight on Easter morning.

Unlike most national holidays in other countries, Independence Day in Greece is a very sober holiday. There is a school flag parade in every town and village and a large parade of the armed forces in Athens.

Although not an official holiday, the pre-Lenten carnival – or apókries – is a major celebration in cities across the country, with Patras hosting the most important and well-known events in the country. The weekend before Lent begins, the carnival season ends on a particularly lavish note with costumes, float parades and various regional traditions.

In addition to national holidays and celebrations, many cities and regions have their own regional festivals that commemorate various historical events, local patron saints or grape harvests.

Note that the Greek Orthodox Church uses a different method than the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches to determine the date of Easter. As a result, Greek Orthodox Easter, and consequently Holy Week and Pentecost, usually fall a week or two later than their Roman Catholic and Protestant counterparts, but sometimes they coincide (as in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2025).