Easter is one of the most important and festive holidays in Greece, and each region has its own customs and traditions. The island of Corfu, located in the Ionian Sea, is famous for its spectacular and colorful Easter celebrations that attract thousands of visitors every year. One of the most distinctive and exciting customs of Corfu Easter is the tradition of throwing pottery from the windows on Holy Saturday morning.
The origin and meaning of the pottery throwing custom
The custom of throwing pottery from the windows, also known as “botides” or “botides”, dates back to the Venetian occupation of Corfu, which lasted from the 14th to the 18th century. According to one theory, the Venetians used to throw out their old and useless objects and pots on New Year’s Eve, to symbolize the renewal and prosperity of the new year. The Orthodox Corfiots adopted this custom and transferred it to Easter, which is also a time of rebirth and joy. Another theory suggests that the custom has roots in ancient Greece, where people used to throw out their old clay pots in April and plant seeds in new ones, to mark the arrival of spring and fertility.
Whatever the origin, the custom of throwing pottery from the windows has a symbolic and spiritual meaning for the Corfiots. It represents the resurrection of Christ, who broke the bonds of death and brought new life to humanity. It also signifies the victory of good over evil, as the smashing of the pots is meant to ward off bad spirits and bring good luck. Moreover, it expresses the joy and excitement of the people for the upcoming Easter celebration, which is accompanied by music, dancing, and feasting.
The process and spectacle of the pottery throwing custom
The custom of throwing pottery from the windows takes place on Holy Saturday morning, at 11 o’clock, when the First Resurrection is announced by the bells of all the churches in Corfu town. The people who participate in this custom prepare their pots in advance, filling them with water and decorating them with ribbons, flowers, or other ornaments. The pots are usually large clay jars or amphorae, but they can also be smaller vessels or even plates and cups. The participants choose their windows or balconies carefully, making sure they have a clear view of the street below and enough space to throw their pots safely.
As soon as the bells ring, the participants throw their pots with great force and enthusiasm, aiming at the pavement or at specific targets such as lamp posts or trash cans. The sound of the pots crashing is deafening, creating a thunderous atmosphere that echoes throughout the town. The spectators gather around to watch this spectacle, cheering and applauding every successful throw. Some brave spectators stand very close to the crash sites, getting splashed by water and shards of clay. However, no one has ever been seriously injured by this custom, as there are safety measures in place such as nets, barricades, or helmets.
After the pottery throwing is over, the Philharmonic Orchestras of Corfu parade through the streets of the town, playing cheerful marches such as “Do not be afraid Greeks” or “Graziella”. The people follow them, singing and dancing along, creating a festive mood that contrasts with the solemnity of Good Friday. The broken pieces of pottery are collected by street cleaners or by people who want to keep them as souvenirs or lucky charms.
The uniqueness and attractiveness of the pottery throwing custom
The custom of throwing pottery from the windows is unique to Corfu island and is not practiced anywhere else in Greece or in the world. It is one of the most distinctive and attractive features of Corfu Easter, drawing visitors from all over Greece and abroad who want to experience this thrilling and memorable event. The custom showcases the rich cultural heritage of Corfu island, which has been influenced by various civilizations such as Venice, France, Britain, and Greece. It also reflects the lively and joyful spirit of the Corfiots, who know how to celebrate life even in difficult times.
The custom of throwing pottery from the windows is a tradition that has been preserved for centuries by generations of Corfiots who cherish their history and identity. It is a tradition that adds color and excitement to Easter celebrations on Corfu island, creating a unique spectacle that impresses and delights everyone who witnesses it.