Albania boasts "two Easters," allowing visitors to experience one or both depending on when they arrive and how long they stay. Catholics observe Easter according to the Gregorian calendar, whilst Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter at least a week later, according to the Julian calendar.
It is significant to note that these celebrations are now major festive days for every Christian household, even though during the communist era, these gatherings were prohibited for more than a half-century. No one is permitted to even mention "Easter Sunday" or the
Resurrection of Christ. They were unable to attend Church or do the prescribed rituals. Enver Hoxha's dictatorship attempted to establish an atheist state, so religious holidays were prohibited. When the democratic era arrived, however, all Catholics and Orthodox believers returned to their traditions to observe these dates on their own calendars.
Yet, they all do the same things.
Despite differing dates, Catholic and Orthodox believers attend services throughout Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Both faiths observe Holy Saturday vigils in preparation for Resurrection Day. The vigil is followed by early-morning prayer and song sessions for Orthodox.
Both faiths adorn Easter eggs, with the Orthodox colouring many of their eggs crimson to represent Christ's blood. Orthodox celebrate Easter by eating special Easter bread, drinking brandy, and eating roast lamb for dinner. In truth, all Albanians prefer to participate in cultural or traditional Easter activities because Catholics, Orthodox, and Muslims frequently "borrow, mix, and combine" religious feasts and traditions in Albania. Our religious tolerance and harmony are well-known.
Here are some suggestions for what Albanians will be doing this Easter:
Attend Catholic Easter services in St Paul's Cathedral in Tirana. It is administered by the
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tiranë-Durrës. To the left of the main door, a stained glass window depicts Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa. A statue of Mother Teresa can also be located in the cathedral's entryway. It was dedicated on January 26, 2002.
Attend Orthodox Easter services at Tirana's Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral. The cathedral, completed in 2012, is one of the biggest in the Balkans. It includes a massive 16-bell tower on top with an Orthodox-stle cross bearing four "Paschal candles", representing the light of the four Gospel Resurrection stories.
Nonetheless, there are other additional churches in Tirana and throughout the country. The most well-known is Kisha e Lacit, about an hour's drive from Tirana. The biggest Christmas celebrations occur in Shkodra and Lezha, where the Catholic community is more robust.
Thus, if you're in Tirana these days, you can choose to visit these cities, which are two hours away, and immerse yourself in true festive tradition.
In general, individuals celebrate with their relatives and friends following church services.