Austerity continues to drag on Greek spirits, but everyone is determined to put on a brave face for Holy Week, and the Greek Orthodox church is preparing for Easter, the highlight of the religious calendar, more important than even Christmas.
The highlight is Saturday’s midnight resurrection mass, and the long weekend is also an occasion for family reunions and meals around a table, especially Sunday, when the 40-day fast of Lent is broken.
“We are living through hard times, really hard times. In the past I would buy a whole baby lamb, now I can hardly buy half of one,” said one man.
“Things are just the same as last year, but I’m not giving up hope. I’m optimistic by nature,” said a woman.
Lower salaries and pensions have hit Greek wallets hard, as has one of the EU’s highest unemployment rates, but people say they are determined to celebrate Easter, frugally or otherwise.
“The Greek Orthodox faithful regard the resurrection of Christ with all the symbolism it contains as the cornerstone of their faith. But in today’s economic reality, resurrection remains a long and arduous process”, says euronews’ Stamatis Giannisis in Athens.