Why Greeks at Easter Bless House with a Lit Candle

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Greek Easter, also known as Pascha, is a time that is filled with many traditions. Besides all the traditions that are based on food, there are also those that are associated with the church. Church services take place nearly every day during Holy Week, but the biggest is the one takes place on Holy Saturday in the evening. The church service lasts into the early hours of Sunday Morning.

Lighting Candles During Holy Saturday Service

During the service, the church goes completely dark and everything is quiet. Eventually, the priest lights the first candle. Soon, the church is illuminated with the light of everyone’s candles. The candles remain lit during the remainder of the service. If the candle burns out, it is quickly relit during the service. The ultimate goal is to keep the candle lit for as long as possible.

Taking the Lit Candle Home

Inevitably, those that attend the service always come home with their lit candles. It is so important that the candle remains lit. This is part of the tradition, but the candle flame that is lit during the special Holy Saturday service is something that is said to be extra special because it symbolizes Christ’s resurrection. This can get tense because it is difficult transporting a lit candle in a moving vehicle. If you are walking home it can be even harder because there is always a risk that the wind will blow it out.

Blessing the Home with the Candle

Upon returning home, they then walk around their homes, both inside and out, saying “Christos Anesti”, which means “Christ is Risen”. They may also sing the Christos Anesti hymn. They make sure to cover every part of the house, as well as the main areas outside. The details of how a home is blessed vary from family to family. Some only bless the doorways, others walk around with the candle in order to cover a larger area.

Jesus is the Light of the World

Orthodox Christians look at candles as being the Light of God or the Light of Christ. There is a verse in the Bible that states:

  •  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”. – John 8:12

This is the core behind why there are so many candles in the Greek Orthodox Church. The Holy Saturday service makes particular use of candles in a beautiful way. During this service, they not only symbolize Christ, but also his Resurrection and the sacrifice He made for us.

The next time you attend this service, you won’t want to miss out on the chance to bless your home with the candle. It offers a way for us to connect with God during such a holy day.

Visit here for more information about the Holy Saturday service. 

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This post was written by Greek Boston