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Authentic Greek island life: must-see Greek religious festivals and Greek culture on your Lesvos escape

Authentic Greek island life: must-see Greek religious festivals and Greek culture on your Lesvos escape

Have you been dreaming of an authentic Greek escape, far from the tourist traps and crowds? The beautiful island of Lesvos awaits you. Steeped in history and Greek culture, Lesvos offers a glimpse into traditional Greek life. A highlight of any trip are the colourful Greek religious festivals. Family holidays in Greece will see you warmly welcomed to join in the celebrations and experience the passion locals have for their faith.

Witness one of the most important Greek religious festivals – the Assumption of Mary

If you’re thinking about booking your summer holidays in Greece, the Assumption of Mary, on August 15th each year, is a sight to behold on Lesvos. This special day celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven and is one of the biggest Greek religious festivals on the island. Worshippers from across the island, and further afield, flock to Agiasos Church, in the centre of the southern part of the island, to worship the icon of Panagia of Agiasos - some walking 25km to reach the church with many people staying overnight.

Greece holidays wouldn’t be the same without experiencing some authentic Greek culture and the Assumption of Mary festivities gives you a glimpse into the enduring faith and traditions of the Lesvos people. While solemn, there is also an air of joy and celebration. Families come together, friends reunite, and strangers become companions over sumptuous Greek food, drink, music and dance.

As an observer, you’ll feel a sense of warmth and community. Don’t be surprised if you're invited to join in the dancing or offered a drink of Ouzo by the locals! Their hospitality and inclusiveness are boundless.

Locals and visitors also visit the church on the rock in Petra to have lunch or dinner and visit the many street sellers that arrive from Athens and fill the streets. The island is in a very festive mood!

Experience true Greek culture at Easter on Lesvos

Easter is one of the most important Greek religious festivals and experiencing Easter on the island of Lesvos will give you a true insight into Greek culture.

On Maundy (or Holy Thursday) people boil eggs with red dye, preparing them for Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. Late at night women go to the churches close to their homes and decorate the ‘Epitafios’ - Christ’s grave - with flowers. The smell of the flowers is very strong and unique. They stay until morning until the entire grave is decorated. Groups of teenagers and children visit the churches at midnight to admire every ‘Epitafios’. It’s a long and mourning day.

On Good Friday, the mourning continues. Late at night every church on the island which has prepared its ‘Epitafios’ carries it through the streets and the locals follow them with the church bells ringing as they walk. It’s a sight to behold, as the sky fills with lanterns.

On Holy Saturday people attend their local church at midnight to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. At midnight, all the church bells ring out and people hold lit candles, carrying the flame of the Resurrection. When people return home the fasting ends. They break each other’s red eggs and enjoy the traditional soup ‘Magiritsa’ - a soup with lamb liver, intestines, and vegetables.

On Easter Sunday, families gather for a feast. The main dish is lamb, representing purity and innocence, roasted on a spit. People also eat tsoureki, a sweet bread, and the red dyed hard-boiled eggs, symbolising the blood of Christ.

Greece holidays during Easter in Lesvos can be a wonderful way to experience the island's traditions. Witness age-old customs, taste delicious food and feel part of the community during this special time. A memorable trip to this beautiful Greek island will stay with you forever.

Other more local festivals to experience authentic Greek culture include Agios Ermogenis festival, held on August 27th this year, and Skala Loutron festival, held on September 4th this year, both take place in the south of the island and host traditional bands from the island.

Family holidays in Greece allow you to immerse yourself in Greek culture and tradition, and Lesvos at Easter time should be top of your list. A holiday here will give you memories to last a lifetime.

So, whether you’re looking for summer holidays in Greece or want to enjoy the cooler climate of Easter, by visiting during one of the many festivals you’ll be rewarded with a glimpse into the heart and soul of authentic Lesvos. Escape the tourist trail and discover what it really means to live like a local. The spirit of Lesvos awaits you!

To experience some of these wonderful Greek religious festivals, and Greek culture yourself, get in touch at and Real Lesvos can help plan your stay. Or check out our hand-picked accommodation and other services we offer on our website

Mark Walker

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