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  • Writer's pictureShiny Greece

Burning Judas | Celebrating Easter with Fire, Feast, and Symbolism

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Authors

George Papadellis | SG Head

with some good tips from AI


Easter is one of the most significant religious holidays in Greece, and it is celebrated with a range of customs and traditions. One such tradition is the Burning of Judas. A unique and fascinating tradition, a special custom of the celebration of Labri (means: Shiny) of the Greek Pasha, that has been passed down for generations. It can be found in Hydra, Cyclades, Crete, Peloponnese in different versions. In this article, we explore the history of the Burning of Judas, the significance of the custom, and how it is celebrated.

Burning Judas Custom  |  Shiny Greece

History of Burning Judas

The Burning of Judas dates back to ancient times, where it was a popular custom throughout Greece. Judas was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, who betrayed him and led to his crucifixion. In Greek history, Judas represents treachery and betrayal, and the custom of burning his effigy is a way of symbolically punishing him for his actions. The custom has its roots in pagan traditions and was incorporated into Christianity during the Byzantine period. The Burning of Judas was banned during Ottoman rule, but it was revived in the early 19th century when Greece gained independence.

Procession of Judas around Akrotiri Village Santorini before Burn

Procession of Judas around Akrotiri Village Santorini before Burn | Photo by: Klearchos Kapoutsis from Santorini, Greece, The Procession of Judas (4490429343), CC BY 2.0


The Significance

The Burning of Judas is a symbolic act that represents the triumph of good over evil. By burning the effigy of Judas, the community is purging itself of any negative energy and welcoming in positive vibes. The custom is also seen as a way of releasing any frustrations or anger that may have accumulated over the year.


The Celebration

The Burning of Judas is a significant event and it is celebrated with great enthusiasm. On the evening of Holy Saturday, a procession takes place through the streets of villages, with the effigy of Judas carried on horses or else. The procession is led by the local priest and accompanied by the sound of drums and bells. The procession ends at the town square, where the effigy is hung from a pole and set on fire. As the effigy burns, fireworks light up the sky, and the crowd cheers and claps. After the Burning of Judas, a feast takes place, with traditional Greek food and wine served to all.


The Symbolism

The Burning of Judas is a fascinating and unique custom that has been part of Greek culture for centuries. The custom symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and is a way of releasing negative energy and welcoming positive vibes. The Burning of Judas is an excellent example of how customs and traditions can connect people to their past and provide a sense of community and belonging.

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