The Tradition of Easter Lampades
Holding Easter lampades (candles), a popular Easter tradition in Greece, dates back to early Christian times. The ancient Christian church baptized new members of the church on Holy Saturday, during which time each member of the church held a lampada. New converts carried their own lampades as they entered the church for baptism by priests.
The lampada symbolizes the new light of Christ that came to illuminate the soul of the converts or newly-baptized. It symbolizes the light Christians believe Christ brought to humanity when he conquered death and the darkness through his Resurrection. It also represents the sun of spring, although the Church primarily uses the lampada as the symbol of the Resurrection of Christ.
Orthodox Christians carry lampades on Good Friday during the procession of the Holy Epitafios (a representation of the tomb of Christ) and on Holy Saturday night. Traditionally, the lampades come in different colors. On Friday, Greek Christians carry naturally dark-colored lampades to symbolize the grief Christians feel for the Passions and the death of Christ. However, on Holy Saturday, they carry white lampades in celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. Many people carry the light home with them to bless their homes and make the sign of the cross outside their front door.
Today, a godparent traditionally gives their godchild their Easter lampada. Many of these candles are ornately decorated with ribbons, beads, dolls, or toys. Regardless of how simple or ornate lampades may be now, they represent one of the most special and significant moments in Christianity, a moment greatly revered and celebrated by Greek Orthodox Christians around the world.