Easter is the holiest and greatest festival in the calendar of the Greek Ortho¬dox faith. The unique way it is celebrated in Corfu draws masses of people from every part of Greece.

Easter time in Corfu is a complex phenomenon of religious worship, unique in magnificence and popular participation, that has been organized here for at least five hundred years. It is a blend of old Byzantine ritual with influences from the example of Venetian religious practice, which itself had Byzantine influences. These rituals at one time were partly conducted in the form of public ceremonies arranged by the town itself, but nowadays Corfu Easter celebrations are organized through collaboration between the Town Council and the Church.

As time passed, Easter celebrations multiplied. This means that nowa¬days Corfiots of every age play a significant role in them. People participating in these great civil-cum-religious rituals have a sense of their own particu¬lar role. Participation is ensured through local parishes, the marching brass bands of the philharmonic orchestras (a custom initially attached to the mu¬sical accompaniment of religious processions by military bands that dates at least to the time of Venetian rule), the organized choral ensembles, and the Red Cross, Scouts, Guides, and other associations.

One more defining characteristic of Easter here is that, since the time of Venetian rule, the local Catholic Archdiocese had agreed to celebrate Easter on the same day as the Orthodox Church—a custom still observed today.

Villages throughout the island also celebrate the Passions and Resurrec¬tion of Jesus in unique and beautiful fashions amid the splendid greenery of the Corfiot springtime. The people’s dedication to religious tradition is probably deeper here, lacking the secular distractions Easter brings in Cor¬fu Town. Impressive religious processions for the Resurrection usually take place during the week after Easter Sunday. This is an old Byzantine custom that may be connected with the official blessing of fields by the Church in April or May. It is still extant only on the monastic community of Mount Athos, a few Cycladic islands, and among islanders of the Ionian Sea, where the Orient and Occident meet in harmonious coexistence.

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