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Easter in Corfu

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The Corfiot Easter celebrations may be said to have three fundamental characteristics for people: the uniqueness and wealth of customs; real and living relationship with a deep tradition; and the sense of continuity, attested by the participation in them of one and all inhabitants of Corfu Town, the protagonist and ideal backdrop of the festival.

As time passed, Easter Celebrations multiplied. This means that nowdays there is a noted presence in them of Corfiots of every age. People participate in those great civil-cum-religious rituals, each person having a full understanding of their role and mission. Participation is ensured through local parishes, the brass marching bands of the philarmonic orchestras ( a custom initially attached to the musical accompaniment of religious processions by military bands that dates at least to the time of English rule), the organized choral ensembles, and the Red Cross, Scouts, Guides, and other associations.

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 an admixture of the old Byzantine ritual with influences from Venetian religious example, which was in itself rooted in Byzantine provenance. That ritual was embodied in the public ceremonies arranged then by the town itself, and nowdays organized by collaboration between Town Council and Church.

One more defining characteristic of Easter here is that already since the time of the Venetian rule the local Catholic Archdiocese had agreed to celebrate Easter on the same day with the Orthodox Church - and this custom is still observed.

Alongside the ancient and established religious rituals, more recent years have seen the initation of events centred on music and literature, in harmony with the season's spirit, that enhance the quality  of festivities. These are largely organized by philarmonic orchestras, choral societies and cultural associations.

Villages throughout the island also celebrate Easter time in unique and beautiful fashion in the splendid greenery of Corfiot springtime. There are impressive religious processions on the Resurrection that usually take place during the week after Easter Sunday. This is one more 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 can enjoy peaceful coexistence.

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