Easter begins here, as in other places, on Palm Sunday. The solemn procession of the holy relics of Saint Spyridon occurs at 11 o’clock in the morning. A custom since 1630, it is carried out in commemoration of the island’s deliverance from the spread of the deadly plague of 1629 which had taken the lives of many citizens of Corfu. All fifteen philharmonic orchestras of the island participate in this procession.
On Holy Thursday, Corfu enters the final stage of the Holy Week events. People fill the churches and with deep devotion experience the culmination of the divine drama – the Crucifixion. At Pinia – the commercial centre of the old city – and on nearby streets, the bands have their final rehearsals. It is the tradition of Holy Thursday for women of all ages to remain at church after the service in order to decorate the Epitaph. The Epitaph processions begin early, in order to allow enough time for the philharmonic orchestras to play alongside each one. At midday, around 2:30, the Epitaph procession from the church of St. Nicholas of Faliraki sets out. At 4:00 the procession from the chapel of St George at the city’s old citadel (Palaio Frourio) commences, passing through the main streets of Corfu and Liston. As time goes on, the number of Epitaphs multiplies and in the end many of them meet at different points in the city.