On May the 4th Greece is set to start lifting the lockdown measures. However, the warm weather and the fact it is Labour Day has resulted in people taking to the streets and parks a little prematurely.
As we went for our usual walk around the local area, we saw many families and groups collecting flowers to make into wreaths. The Greeks celebrate Labour Day every year on the 1st of May, this is a national holiday. Usually, most shops would be closed, however, due to Covid-19, this didn’t impact us much as most shops have been closed anyway. The wreaths made from the wildflowers are usually hung on the door, balconies or walls where they are left to dry until the summer solstice when they will be burnt.
There were plenty of police stationed around the city and at the entrance to the parks, however, they didn’t seem to mind the large number of people going into the parks and picking flowers. This is the first time since the lockdown started that we have seen so many people out and about and having picnics with friends. Hopefully, this won’t result in a backlash as Greece has done remarkably well at keeping Covid-19 cases and deaths to a minimum.
Blog post by Alex Hood (@alexjohnhood)
As some of you may know the Greek people celebrate Easter on a different day than when most countries celebrate. This is due to the different branch of religion they follow; they follow the orthodox Christian calendar. This means that Easter fell on the 19th April 2020.
Unfortunately, this is also during the lockdown in place due to the corona virus. But Easter is so big for the Greeks, that normally they would go all out, just as we may do for Christmas.
Because of how big Easter is as soon as the clock struck midnight on the 18th (Holy Saturday) leading into the 19th we began to hear chanting, bells and booming noises. Not knowing what this could be we made our way up to the roof to get a proper look at what was happening. When we got up there, we soon became aware of the fireworks going off from multiple different positions within the city. The sky was full of flares and fireworks coming off Lycabettus hill and the chapel on top of that. Mixing in with the fireworks was the sound of “he is risen”, the passage regarding Jesus resurrection from his crucifixion. With everyone out on their roof’s and balcony’s it was truly a mesmerising sight.
After the firework show and a goodnights sleep, the next day seemed to bring quiet streets and shut down shops … not that that’s much different to everyday life at the moment. However, on our daily exercise we could smell the BBQ smoke and different smells coming from everyone’s houses. One thing we did find strange was the sound of bangs from around the city. After some investigating (online) we were told that this could in fact be firecrackers, so the festivities we clearly still in full swing just at a safe distance, being celebrated from rooftops and balconies.
All in all, it seemed the Greek people were still trying to celebrate the best that they could given the situation right now and I hope that they managed to make the most of the day!
KALO PASKA !!!
We are three Brighton University students who have been given the opportunity to study at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. This blog will be our way of sharing our experiences of living and studying in Greece, plus will include tips and advice for those also looking to study abroad or even just visit Athens.
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