First Easter celebration in Milatos!

This is the most important Greek celebration. Everyone joins their family from Thursday afternoon to celebrate Easter together. A fantastic occasion to welcome a part of our family and friends for a “general test” before the hotel opens!

From Friday evening, the programme includes the Epitaphios (Christ’s burial), which leads to a procession through the village from one church to another. Oh yes, we have quite a few of them. Even though you may hear a few firecrackers here and there, the general ambience is fairly solemn.

At midnight the following day, everyone gathers again at the church to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. After the liturgy, light is spread by the priest, who offers the flame of his candle to some, who pass it on in turn, so that each person may take it back home.

It is a truly magical moment whether or not you are a believer. It is a moment of true communion, where each person hopes for the best. The ambience that evening is completely different: joy, laughter, often masked by the sound of firecrackers, as well as fireworks in the village square lighting up the sky.

Truly impressive, but it doesn’t end there… We discover a bonfire in the church square bearing the effigy of Judas, which the inhabitants have set alight. Tall flames shoot skywards and Judas quickly disappears to the cries of the villagers. This is the first time we have experienced this. However, the tradition in Milatos is to burn Judas that very evening.

It is time for us all to return to the hotel with our lit candles to enjoy a good dinner. On the menu, the famous “Magiritsa”, prepared for us by our chef, Michalis: a traditional soup made with lamb offal, eaten on Easter night in Greece.

Once everyone is sitting at the table, they pick up a red egg and try to break their neighbour’s egg by smashing them together (don’t worry, they’re hardboiled). There’s a lot of Bang, Crack, Ooh, Ahh, Yes, etc… until not one remains whole! Christos Anesti, Chronia Polla! Stin ygia sas! Everyone raises their glass and the meal begins.

The custom of painting eggs red is thought to go back to ancient times. Members of the Greek orthodox church prepare them on Good Thursday and eat them after midnight on Saturday evening and throughout the Easter period.

The sun has already risen over our meeting point and the day promises to be superb!

Michalis arrived early this morning and is busy in the kitchen preparing the Easter lamb.  In Greece, lamb is usually brushed with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and oregano and is spit-roasted («souvla»). In certain regions of Crete, they use the so-called “Antikristo” technique to cook the lamb, which consists of placing a rack of pieces of lamb on a vertical spit and cooking it in the centre of a wood (not coal) fire.  This is a first for everyone (except for the chef) and is a real hit.

Everyone is happy! Lamb, kokoretsi, meze and other Cretan dishes prepared by our chef, Michalis, accompanied by good wine, ouzo and raki.

Despite the water being cold, some have dared to go for a dip in the swimming pool. Chatting, sun bathing, reading in the shade of the olive trees, games of cards in the afternoon for adept fans of Biriba, while Michael, our barman, shakes his shaker to prepare them some cocktails.

After months of work, we are happy to see the hotel come alive!