Skiathos is one of the few areas of Greece where the Ritual of Mount Athos is strictly observed (concerning the hours of church services). Thus, the epitaph service starts at one in the morning of Holy Saturday. The procession starts at about 4 in the morning.
There is a leader (a herald) who loudly announces the appropriate psalms, while all the people and the cantors join in. The procession winds along the picturesque alleyways and cobbled paths of the island. All the houses are lit up, while in the courtyards there are lighted candles and burning incense imbues the air with a sweet smell. At the Church of the "Three Hierarchs", the congregations of the two churches meet at around 5.30 in the morning. There, the clergy perform a reenactment of the "Descent into Hell" of Christ. When they come to words "Lift up your heads, O ye gates", the priest pushes with force (with his foot) and opens the outer door of the church. Soon it will be dawn, but nobody goes to bed, because Holy Saturday is a day devoted to the last-minute preparations for Easter Sunday.
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