kleftiko bay


Evangelia Delli

postdoctoral researcher at INTEC, imec research group at Ghent University, Belgium

Evangelia Delli
“Corfu undergoes a surreal transformation during Easter, illuminated by violet lights, resonating with marching bands and vibrant processions. It truly is a captivating spectacle.”

A journey into Greek traditions

Coming from the charming village of Vouniatades on Corfu Island in Greece, Evangelia Delli embarked on a journey that led her to pursue her PhD studies in Lancaster, UK. Moving ahead to March 2023, Evangelia transitioned into a postdoctoral researcher role in semiconductor engineering at imec.

evangelia delli header
Corfu town

The village school

Vouniatades is so small that not even all the locals of Corfu are familiar with it. In fact, Evangelia once had to provide directions to a local taxi driver because he had never heard of this tiny village before.

During her early years, Evangelia attended the sole primary school nestled within the village. This quaint school consisted of just a single room and a solitary teacher. In a unique setup, children from different grades shared this space, their desks separated by lines to distinguish the various levels. In this setting, the teacher skillfully maneuvered around the room, simultaneously guiding a grade one student through the alphabet while a grade four student worked on math problems nearby. All these diverse activities harmoniously unfolded in the same room.

After some time, the village school eventually closed its doors, prompting Evangelia to transfer to a neighboring village’s educational institution. However, the memories of her initial schooling experience in that single room have remained vividly etched in her memory.

agios mathaios - marching band instruments
Agios Mathaios - Marching band instruments (picture by Evangelia)

The marching bands

Throughout Greece, numerous saints are worshipped in different regions. For example, St. Dimitrios in Thessaloniki, St. George in Arachova, and St. Spyridon in Corfu are all well revered. Evangelia grew up celebrating St. Spyridon in Corfu. In 1840, the island was under British rule and yet to become a part of Greece. On their hallowed day, the inhabitants requested the British bands to play a homage to the patron saint of the city. But the British protectorate refused. To retaliate, the people of Corfu created a band, the Philharmonic Corfuit Society, to honor the saint. It is a tradition still alive in Corfu. On the first day of Holy Week (the Palm or Passion Sunday), all the philharmonic bands of Corfu march through the city center and nearby areas in a show of solidarity to celebrate St. Spyridon. In high school, Evangelia was also part of such a band. Interestingly, the bands do not play instruments like violin or cello. Instead, they use clarinet and flutes as substitutes. Lots of brass instruments are also part of the bands. During different days of celebration, the bands put on colorful uniforms with their special headgear. The melodies begin with a somber tune marking the plight of the plague Corfu had suffered. Then, as per local beliefs, the saint performed a miracle to eradicate illness and pain. To mark the miracle, the bands play happy tunes. Alongside the island residents, people from all over the world come to Corfu to witness the joyous celebrations.

rouketopolemos - traditional greek festival held at easter
Rouketopolemos - Traditional Greek festival held at Easter

The Easter delights

While Greece portrays a natural canvas of lush greens and vibrant blues during the summer, Evangelia points out that the Easter season emerges as the optimal time to experience its unique charm. Across diverse regions of Greece, a tapestry of rituals unfolds to commemorate the Resurrection of Christ.

In Chios, the Easter celebration includes the custom of Rouketopolemos. Two rival parishes in the villages of Vrontados shoot homemade rockets at each other’s church bell towers, creating a spectacular and unique display of fireworks. Meanwhile, on the serene island of Hydra, the tradition of Lazarines takes place on Lazarus Saturday. Young girls, dressed in traditional costumes, go door-to-door singing Lazarus carols and receive gifts or money in return.

traditional costumes
Traditional costumes
corfu - easter clay pots
Corfu - Easter clay pots

In various Peloponnesian villages, the tradition of the Anastenaria still exists today. It involves people dancing barefoot over hot coals to honor Saints Constantine and Helen. Corfu is known for its unique Easter celebration called Botides (the pot throwing). On Holy Saturday morning, people throw red clay pots from their balconies, which crash and break in the streets below, symbolizing the end of winter and the arrival of spring. Spectators are also encouraged to preserve a part of the broken pot throughout the year for good luck. The island of Corfu further upholds the tradition of adorning purple as a mourning color. It sets the tone for reflection and repentance leading up to Easter, where the color palette shifts to brighter hues to celebrate the Resurrection and Easter Sunday.

spanakopita - traditional greek spinach pie
Spanakopita - Traditional Greek spinach pie

For lovers of culinary delights, Evangelia mentioned visiting Thessaloniki. A mélange of Roman, Byzantium, Greek, and Turkish cuisine has created a fusion of mesmerizing delicacies in the city’s food culture.

Food tip

Enjoy the local vibe with classic Greek dishes like Kleftiko or Spanakopita at cozy village tavernas or seaside spots.