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Life in the tomb

By Maria Gregoriou

Tomorrow night pick a church, almost any church on the island and you will find an Epitaphios – the burial of Christ (or as Costas from My Big Fat Greek Wedding would say… and I will show you how the word comes from Greek).

The Epitaphios is a cloth depicting the dead Christ set on a table-like construction which is decorated with flowers by women either on Thursday night or Friday morning. It is then left in the church for the public to worship on Friday. It is said that we should visit and worship three, five, or seven Epitafios, just as long as it is an odd number.

There will be a church service in the morning and in the evening – just like every day during the Easter week. The morning service will start at around 7am and at around 7pm the evening service will proceed.

During the church service lamentations are sung in three phases, the first is known as Life in The Tomb, the second as Worthy, It Is, and then Every Generation.

After the evening service, at around 9pm in most churches, the Epitaphios will be placed on a decorated bier and taken outside the church. Men will carry the flower-strewn tomb around the church on their shoulders, while church-goers will pass under it – symbolising entering into the grave with Christ.

Just in case you are wondering about how the word church is linked to Greek since you started reading this article, it can be linked to the word kyriakon, which means of the Lord… and our work here is done.

Church service on Friday to mark the burial of Christ. 7am and 7pm

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