Easter is the highlight of the Orthodox calendar in Greece. It ranks above Christmas and is one of the few days a year that ferries don’t run. However, the Easter celebrations don’t just happen on Easter Sunday! It is a week-long event, and there is usually an event every day of the Holy Week.
Tinos is one of the best places to experience Greek Orthodox Easter. This is due to the Shrine of the Panagia Evangelistria (Our Lady of Tinos) and the church associated with it. Orthodox pilgrims come here to see the Icon of Mary found during the Greek Revolution of 1821. Pilgrims make their way from the port on their knees up a hill and into the church. You can see a carpet on the street for this purpose.
Easter in Tinos
As mentioned before, the entire week up to Easter Sunday, things are happening in Tinos. Holy Monday is a service to celebrate Joseph the Patriarch. While some Greeks will be participating in some fasting during all of Lent, this is the week when many are very strict about fasting. Check with your hotel during Holy Week, as they can tell you all the events happening in Tinos town for the week.
Also known as Great Tuesday, today is the day on Tinos the locals make a sweet Easter Pie made of unsalted cheese called tsimpito. Your hotel may have some with breakfast, but if not, check out one of the local bakeries to taste this local treat.
Holy Wednesday or Great Wednesday
Wednesday is dedicated to the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with myrrh. In many churches, the anointing of the sick. Sick does not necessarily mean physically sick, and many will have themselves anointed in preparation for the receiving of communion on Thursday.
Thursday is the day that Easter Eggs are dyed in Greece. The eggs are usually dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. In addition, Greeks will bake Tsoureki, a sweet bread that will be eaten on Easter Sunday. The dyed eggs may be placed in the center of the Tsoureki. If you are lucky, your hotel will have some red Easter eggs for you to take.
Holy Friday or Megali Paraskevi
Holy Friday is one of the bigger celebrations of the week. In the morning, women will gather to decorate the epitaph with fresh flowers. Around noon people will go to see Christ’s body that has been placed in the epitaph.
In the evening is the funeral of Christ. In Tinos, and in many places in Greece, the epitaph is taken on men’s shoulders and walked through the village with a band playing funeral music. Several churches in Tinos town will parade theirs in town and then meet along the way, eventually taking the biers’ to the port area. Then a service is given by the priests. One epitaph from the Church of Saint Nicholas is taken down to Kalamia beach. The priest will enter the water to give prayers for seamen.
If you attend this event, wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to stand for many hours. Following the epitaphs from the main church can get crowded as it enters the narrow alleys in Tinos town. If crowds are not your thing, you can skip that part and head down to the port to secure a good spot.
Saturday is the first Resurrection, and you will hear “Christos Anesti” greetings between Greeks. If you want to respond, you say, “Alithos Anesti,” after someone says, “Christos Anesti.” Christos Anesti means, “Christ is Risen” and the response is “Truly He is Risen.”
There is usually a service in the morning and in the evening on Saturday. You will probably see and hear fireworks on Saturday for a while. Churches vie to be the loudest. Almost as if it’s a competition for the celebration.
Saturday night is also when the Great Fire arrives from Israel. In Tinos, it arrives by boat late in the evening. I was lucky enough to be at the port when this happened. Police accompany the fire up to the Panagia Evangelistria like royalty. Everyone gathers in the churchyard, anxiously awaiting the fire to be passed to them. Afterward, people carefully carry home their fire home, intending to keep it alight as long as possible.
The smell of roasting lamb is likely to wake you on Sunday. Families gather and spend the day eating. It is a good day to walk around and see what the Greeks are up to. There will be services and more celebrations today, but most people spend it with family. Find a restaurant to have some roast lamb at and enjoy the day.
One thing to note is that the ferry doesn’t run on Easter Sunday, so if you need to be somewhere on Sunday, you will need to leave on Saturday. The ferry on Monday was also very crowded, with people sitting on the floor. Make sure to book a seat reservation, so this doesn’t happen to you!
Orthodox Easter 2023
Orthodox Easter in 2023 will be on April 16. If you are planning on coming to Tinos for Easter or anywhere in Greece, you must book for Easter well in advance. Most Greeks will head to their home island or village for some or all of the week for Easter, so hotels and ferries book up quickly.
Also, remember that April and May are not the high tourist season, so hotels, ferries and restaurants may not be fully open. Your selection will be less. For some restaurants, I recommend making a reservation a day or two before, especially if you are with a large group.
In 2024, Orthodox Easter will be May 5, and in 2025 it will be April 20.
Things to Do in Tinos
Tinos has plenty to see outside of the Easter celebrations. However, the island isn’t fully open for tourists, so some things may be quiet. It is a good opportunity to visit the mountain villages as they are stunningly beautiful. You may need to rent a car at Easter since Tinos’s bus service is limited. A few highlights worth mentioning are the giant boulders in Volax, the dovecotes around the islands, Kolymbithra beach, visiting local artists and Panormos village.
Weather in Tinos for Easter
Spring in Greece can be warm but can also be cold and wet. Tinos also is famous for its winds. When I was there, the days were warm, and the nights were cold. Fortunately, I experienced very little wind, but it can happen and will make you feel colder. My advice is to bring layers. You might even want shorts for the days if Easter is later in the season.
Where to Stay in Tinos
There are so many beautiful villages to see in Tinos, and each will have some celebrations during Easter. However, many big celebrations and processions happen in Tinos town, where the ferry arrives. This is also the location of the Panagia Evagelistra. I recommend you stay in Tinos town and rent a car to explore the island during the day.
Poseidonio Hotel is right in the center of Tinos town and about a 10-minute walk to the Panagia Evagelistra. The hotel has some renovated rooms that are very nice. They served breakfast and had a schedule of all the Easter activities. If you book early enough, you may be able to get a port-facing view so you can see the sea!
Vincenzo Family Rooms
If you seek to be in a quieter part of Tinos Town, I recommend the Vincenzo Family Rooms. This family-run hotel is just a few minutes from the main area of town and offers incredible service. Bring your swimsuit, as they have a jacuzzi in the courtyard which will be nice on the cooler days of April or May.