Athens.- Political leaders plan short escapes to celebrate Sunday, Easter day. President of Republic Mr. Papoulias will visit his hometown Ioannina, a picturesque lakeside city in northwest Greece. On Good Friday, Papoulias will attend the church service for the Epitaph at the Aghios Athanassios Cathedral and the resurrection liturgy in the village Fragades.
The president of Republic will participate in Easter Sunday celebrations with soldiers serving at the historic Kalpaki military camp to the north of Ioannina.
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis will spent Easter holidays with his family in Rafina. On Easter Day, he will visit flight trainees and technicians in Dekeleia airport in Tatoi. PASOK leader will also spent Easter holidays with his family in Ydra Island and will exchange wishes with militants in the Navy Training Center of Poros.
General Secretary of Communist Party (KKE) Aleka Papriga will visit Airmen in Dekeleia air base. SYRIZA parliamentary group president Alekos Alavanos will spent Easter holidays in his mother’s hometown Kavala. LAOS president Giorgos Karatzaferis will visit Dekeleia. Archbishop Hieronymus will remain in Athens.
The “Holy Light” from the Church of the Ressurection of Christ in Jerusalem will be transferred to Athens on Saturday with a government executive jet. The aircraft will depart Saturday morning from Athens and will return at 18.30. Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, parties’ representatives and Church of Greece officials will be on board to accompany the “Holy Light”.
The mass exodus of Greeks spending their Easter in the countryside was well underway on Thursday, with people abandoned the cities in droves and heightened traffic on the roads as motorists took advantage of the fine weather. According to the meteorological service, the next few days are expected to be sunny with higher temperatures throughout the country.
Both national highways leading out of Athens were busy but not gridlocked as traffic police came out in force to facilitate those leaving the city to spend Orthodox Easter with their families and friends in towns and villages.
Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, in his Easter message, expressed a wish to the faithful “to meet the Risen Christ in their fellow human beings.”
“The Resurrection of Christ is a reminder of the light’s supremacy over darkness,” the Archbishop mentioned, adding that in this light “the individual is met with the true calling, which is none other than meeting God through helping other people — regardless of language, colour, religion and culture.”
“The clouds of the imminent economic crisis may cast a shadow over the prospects and future of many of our brothers but a much deeper crisis is experienced when we continue a provocatively indifferent stance toward our fellow human being,” he stressed.
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The President of the Greek Parliament Dimitris Sioufas, in his Easter message stated: “The message of the Resurrection has guided and supported humanity and the Greek nation for two thousand years. Let’s introduce it again into our personal, social, political and national lives,”
Sioufas called on the people to “resurrect values and ways of living that will help us build a better tomorrow for our own and the next generations.”
A unique and spectacular Easter custom has been revived in the small town of Leonidio in Arcadia Prefecture, southern Greece.
At the stroke of midnight on Easter Sunday, the sky will be lit up by hundreds of multicolored hot air balloons that will offer a captivating spectacle as they rise into the horizon for 30-40 minutes before burning out or disappearing over the sea or the nearby forest.
They are handmade by the local people and the town’s five parishes compete with each other to keep up in the air as many balloons as possible for the longest period of time.