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Good Friday is the most solemn day of the Holy Week, a day of mourning for the Orthodox Christianity.  This day is filled with rituals, hymns and psalms, climaxing in the evening at the procession of the Epitafios.

The Epitafios is a ceremonial cloth, which consists of a large, embroidered and often richly decorated cloth, and bears upon it an image of the dead body of Jesus Christ, often with depictions of his mother and other religious forms. Its use is limited to the services of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. On Good Friday morning this cloth symbolizing the body of Jesus is placed on a special ceremonial table with a wooden canopy, which is also called Epitafios. The cloth bearing the body of Jesus Christ is placed under the canopy and is then covered with flower petals and sprinkled with rosewater. Then everyone comes forward to venerate Epitafios.

Traditionally this wooden structure must be lavishly decorated with flowers the day before, on Holy Thursday, therefore young women and girls, called myrofores (myrrh-bearing women), gather at the church to decorate it and to mourn for Jesus. There is a friendly competition amongst neighboring parishes as to which one will have the most beautifully decorated Epitafios and people usually visit more than one church to pray and admire the flower decoration.

Finally, after the evening service, when the Epitafios Thrinos (The Lamentation at the Tomb) is chanted there is a procession, sometimes with a band, and the Epitafios is carried around the streets of the parish.

easter epitafios
epitafios easter

Good Friday with its traditions is certainly the most devout day of the Holy Week. On this day, radio stations play soft music, the air is filled with the flower scents, and we prepare for the following day, when we celebrate The Resurrection, the most important celebration of Orthodox Christianity.

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