During the time that the Greek Orthodox Church has been around, it has had a very important and significant role in the life of many people. This is especially true of those who were not born into the religion, as their lives were shaped by the teachings of the church. The calendar of the Greek Orthodox Church consists of a number of important days, which are not only important religious celebrations, but also important religious festivals.
Traditionally, Pascha in the Greek orthodox church calendar is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. This festival is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. It is the most important religious feast in the year.
The Easter readings focus on the promise of conquering death and are based on prophecies found in the Old Testament. The Resurrection is the most radical deliverance for humankind.
Early Christians kept the Resurrection on Sunday. When Constantine became Emperor, he gave the Church buildings and legal status. As a result, the Church began to grow quickly.
Traditionally, Pentecost is the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. The Spirit is credited with having come to earth to fill the Apostles and enable them to continue their mission to the world.
The coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost is described in the Book of Acts. The Spirit descended in the form of tongues of fire and made it possible for the Apostles to speak in other languages to the Jews in Jerusalem.
The Orthodox Church traces its origin to the apostolic community. It is believed that the Apostles were called into existence by Jesus Christ.
Several churches celebrate the Transfiguration on different dates. In the Orthodox Church, the feast of the Transfiguration falls on the ninth Sunday after Trinity and is celebrated during a two-week fast leading up to the Dormition of the Mother of God. In the Coptic Orthodox Church, it is celebrated on the thirteenth day of the Mesri calendar.
The liturgical celebration of the Transfiguration was begun in the seventh century in the Eastern and Western Churches. It is also considered to be one of the seven minor church feasts. Its etymology is not clear, but it may have originated in the Byzantine Empire.
Often referred to as the Assumption of Mary, the Dormition celebrates the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into heaven. It is an important holiday celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox Church and some high-church Protestant churches. The feast is also a national holiday in Greece.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the feast is commemorated on August 15. The feast is followed by two fasting periods, the Dormition Fast and the Apostles’ Fast. The Dormition Fast is stricter than the Apostles’ Fast. In fact, it is a fourteen day fast.
The Dormition Fast is observed from August 1 to September 4. During the Fast, most parishes hold Paraklesis services. These services consist of supplications for the Theotokos and prepare the community for fasting. They also include the Lamentations of the Dormition of the Theotokos.
Known as the ‘Smoky Thursday’ in the Greek Orthodox church calendar, Tsiknopempti is a day to celebrate eating meat and grilling it. It is a popular holiday among Greeks and diaspora communities.
Tsiknopempti falls eleven days before Clean Monday, the first day of Lent in the Greek Orthodox calendar. This is the last day that people can eat meat before they start fasting for forty days.
Tsiknopempti is based on ancient Bacchanalian feasts. It is a day of grilling, feasting and drinking. It is a very social and cultural event. It is especially celebrated by those who are big fans of meat.
Throughout Greece, Ochi Day, or OXI in Greek, is celebrated on October 28. It is a national holiday that commemorates the Greek people’s refusal to surrender to Italian fascist forces during World War II.
It is a major political and religious holiday in Greece, and is celebrated by all Greeks living outside of the country. During World War II, the Greek government refused to accept an ultimatum from Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. The ultimatum called for the Italian army to help Italy against Greece. But the Greek army was able to repel the Italians.
Greeks commemorate Ochi Day with military parades, and demonstrations. These demonstrations usually end with small factions of demonstrators clashing with riot police.