Top Greek Orthodox Christian Traditions to Know

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Many Greeks throughout the world identify as part of the Greek Orthodox Christian religion. Going to a Greek church is a unique and sensory experience that is filled with many traditions. The smell of incense fills the church, the walls are adorned with beautiful icons, and the singing is rich and exotic and hails from another time in history.

Here’s a roundup of some of the top traditions that are associated with the Greek Orthodox Church:

Religious Icons

It is likely that the first thing you’ll notice when you walk into a Greek Church are all the icons. They are set up by the candles, and if you observe partitioners, it is likely you will see them stop to kiss one after they light a candle and before they walk into the church. Icons are pectoral representations of Biblical stories, the Saints, or even Jesus himself. They’re a big part of the Orthodox Church.

Standing, Sitting, and Kneeling

When you attend a Greek Orthodox Church service, you will likely notice that there is a lot of standing and sitting. In some services, such as the Divine Liturgy, there may even be some kneeling. This is programmed into each of the church service and has to do with expressing yourself properly in each of the parts. For example, partitioners kneel while the priest prepares Holy Communion.


The smell of the church is likely something that will stand out as soon as you walk in. Incense is used throughout the service, and its use is reminiscent of a verse from Psalms: May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2). There are specific times in the service where incense is used.

Koliva – Greek Orthodox Bread

There are two times in a typical Divine Liturgy Service where bread is given. The first is at Holy Communion, and the second is at the end of the service. The bread is made with a special recipe and is usually stamped with a special stamp. The priest blesses the bread before it is used.


Fasting is a big tradition in the lives of a Greek Orthodox Christian. There are a few major fast days in the church, such as the period of Great and Holy Lent that takes place before Easter. There is also a Nativity Fast that is held around Christmas, as well as some normal fast days throughout the week. Fasting is looked at as a time for spiritual renewal and allows us to focus on our spiritual lives.

Light Candles

As mentioned above, it is a tradition to light candles before entering the church. The church itself is also decorated with candles. The candles hold a lot of symbolism and they are an integral part of some church services, such as the midnight service that takes place early on Easter Morning.

These traditions are incredibly important to the Greek Orthodox Church and they are worth learning about! It is a good idea to get to know them in order to understand the church.

The Religion section on was written by Greeks to help people understand some of the traditions of the Orthodox Christian religion, which is a religion practiced by people in countries such as Greece, Russia, United States, and other nations throughout the world. This article is not a substitute for information found in the Holy Bible or by our church fathers, priests, and other clergy members.

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This post was written by Greek Boston