Easter without lamb or gifts: Orthodox Christians in Greece struggle to afford holiday goodies

Roasting lamb is just one of the Easter traditions that Orthodox Christians in Greece are struggling to afford this year as their pockets are hit hard by the cost of living crisis. 

Ahead of the April 16 celebrations, customers in Athens are looking for the best deals so that they can still line their baskets with lamb and other goodies, such as chocolates and gifts, despite inflation. Some butchers are even trying to keep prices low so that people can still afford their meat. 

“In the last ten days, people have been shopping for Easter, mainly lamb and goat,” Andreas Niotis, a butcher at Athen’s Varvakeios central market, told Euronews. ’’A kilo of meat costs 9 to 10 euros. Inflation has increased, and we have tried hard to keep prices at last year’s levels.” 

Many in Athens appreciate these lower prices. One man in the market told Euronews: “The prices are very good. I found goat and lamb for 8 euros. Last year they were more expensive, so I think the prices are good.” 

However, others are still struggling to buy lamb for the holiday because they now have less money in their pockets than they did last year. 

“Prices are about the same as last year. Yet the citizens don’t have money, that’s the problem. People can’t pay their bills,” a woman at Athen’s Varvakeios central market said. 

Annual inflation in the Mediterranean country hit 6.5% in February, a slight drop from 7.3% in January. But the cost of food rose 14.5% last month compared to the previous year. 

A dealer walks by coloured eggs at the market ahead of the Orthodox Easter celebrations

In Greece, people also buy Easter candles, chocolate eggs and gifts for children during the holiday season. “It’s been a blast, we’re very pleased,” said Aggelos Metaxas, a toy store manager in Athens. “It’s very busy, people are out shopping. Most buy toys and easter candles.” 

But some consumers are still taking extra time to compare prices and look for the best deals for Easter goodies. And many are waiting to do their shopping until the last minute, hoping to find cheaper prices on food, toys and Easter gifts. 

Filina Chatzigeorgali is one of them. She is a 24-year-old journalism student who is also a new godmother of a baby boy. This year, she wants to buy him a gift, but she is afraid that her finances won’t allow her to get what she wants.

“I came to buy an Easter candle for my godchild,” she said. “You can find something affordable, but it’s usually not what the child wants. It is difficult to satisfy the wishes of the child and at the same time not pay a lot of money.”

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