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Funerals in Greece

There are so many positive aspects about living abroad however, there are also some negative aspects that you need to consider such as the possibilty of a death or attending a funeral abroad. Greece is an Orthodox country, so usually funerals are held at an Orthodox church.


Funerals are never held on a Sunday in Greece. They are most commonly held on a weekday and sometimes on a Saturday, although this is rare. The burial takes place shortly after the death, but there is no specific time for the burial. At the burial, prayers are said and friends and family may kiss the cross that lyes on the deceased, but this usually only applies to close friends and relatives. The service usually takes between 30-40 minutes, after the ceremony people but flowers on the coffin as it is taken away.

A wake is then held after the funeral. The wake may be held at the deceased's home, the church or any other suitable place. People gather, dressed in black and mourn their loss. Traditional Greek foods are often eaten, such as bread and olive oil, cheese, salads and wine is drank.

The family of the deceased, usually puts a notice in the local newspaper of the death. Within the next 40 days after the death, close relatives wear black clothing, some choose to extend this mourning process to 1 year and some widows and widowers follow this for the rest of their life. In cases where the mourning period lasts for 40 days or one year, the mourners do not listen to music, dance or go to other community events. Friends and family will visit the mourning family to drink and eat together.

The Greek Orthodox religion encourages a healthy attitude to death, meaning that the Orthodox followers believe in afterlife. This belief is reflected on the way that they mourn the loss of somebody. In the Orthodox religion, all corpses are buried, as the religion see cremation as destroying the body and believe that the body should be buried untouched and whole, therefore cremation is forbidden. Being an organ donor was once also considered the same as cremation and was too forbidden. However, it has recently became legal, as it is helping another human being and therefore serves a purpose.

The majority of the Greek population follows the Greek Orthodox religion however, if you wish to hold a funeral or burial under another religion, you must inform the local priest for information on what to do.

Funerals are never held on these days, which are celebration days in Greece:
Christmas Day
 The Domination of the Virgin Mary (August 15th)
 The Feast of the Parish Church
 From the Saturday of Lazarus until the Sunday of St. Thomas (dates vary depending on Easter)
 6th August – Transfiguration
 Circumcision of the Lord -1st January
 6th January – Epiphany
 Pentecost
 2nd February – The presentation
 25th March – the Annunciation
 The Ascension