Easter time in Greece is very popular for its many traditions and customs offered in different areas. Easter time on Corfu Island is a unique experience worthy to live, thanks to an old tradition which makes Corfu one of Greece’s most popular destinations for Orthodox Easter. Corfiots mark Holy Saturday with a strange old custom referred to as the “botides” - where large clay jugs filled with water are thrown from the balconies of homes in the heart of the old town, smashing into pieces onto the streets below as thousands of locals and visitors gather around to watch this unique tradition. The clay pots have a narrow mouth and two handles on the side for carrying.
The event takes place in the picturesque Spiniada Square, on Easter Saturday morning, and represents the First Resurrection. Crowds arrive early in the morning, to find a good spot before the jug smashing begins. The balconies are packed with families and pots and are decorated with draping swathes of red fabric and the pots with red ribbons since red is the color of Corfu. At 11am, the bells of all the churches ring cheerfully and the pots start smashing down from the six-storey buildings. At the same time, the philharmonics play religious marches. The sound of jugs crashing onto the street is loud and locals believe it helps to ward off evil spirits. Spectators take pieces of the smashed pots home as good luck charms.
The custom has a long history, dating back to the Venetian times. The Venetians on New Year’s Day, would throw their old things from the windows in the hopes of receiving new ones for the next year. The Corfiots adopted the tradition but replaced the old things with jugs, applying it on Holy Saturday. The Venetians did not allow night celebrations; thus, it became a noon custom. Another theory is that the custom has it root in ancient Greece. Each April, the ancient Greeks would throw away the old planting pots, planting seeds in new ones to mark the coming of spring. Whatever the origin is, this is a must-see event and a good reason to visit Corfu that time of the year.