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Kollyva (Greek: Κολλυβα ) is an offering closely connected with the Memorial Services in Church for the benefit of one's departed.

Today's kollyva consists of boiled wheat, usually mixed with pomegranate seeds, and decorated in a platter with a sugar covering, raisins, and perhaps herbs. A cross is traced on the top, and on its sides are the initials of the departed for whom the memorial is held. The size and decoration of the platter varies according to the time elapsed from the date of death. The fortieth day memorial service is the most important which practically no Orthodox neglects to hold for the repose of the soul of their beloved. The Kollyva are distributed to the congregtion after the service, who in return say "may God forgive his soul!".


Their origin goes back to the time of Julian the Apostate, when in 362 AD he withdrew from the market in Constantinople food-stuffs prescribed for the first day of the Great Lent, Clean Monday, and ordered that they be substituted with "polluted sacrificial food" in an attempt to force upon the people the paganism of which he was an ardent supporter. However St. Theodore suggested to Patriarch Eudoxios that he ordain boiled wheat (already called Kollyva) as a substitute to Lenten food-stuffs taken from the market by emperor Julian. Since then kollyva, having become connected with celebrating the memory of saints, were brought to church and were blessed by the priest during memorial prayers known today as Memorial Services.


The Kollyva are symbolic of the resurrection of the dead on the day of the Second Coming of the Lord. St. Paul said, "what you sow does not come to life unless it dies" (I Corinthians 15:34), and St. John, "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). Thus, as the wheat is buried in the soil and disintegrates without really dying but is later regenerated into a new plant that bears much more fruit than itself, so the Christian's body will be raised again from the very corruptible matter from which it is now made; however, it will be raised not in its previous fleshy substance but in an incorruptible essence which "will clad the mortal body with an immortal garment", in the words of St. Paul (I Corinthians 15:53).

The Kollyva then, symbolize the Apostolically rooted hope in the resurrection of the dead as the only eventuality that gives meaning and attains the longed perfection on the part of the individual who takes his life to be a divinely ordained meaningful living forever.[1]

See also



  1. Rev. Dr. Nicon D. Patrinacos (M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon)). A Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy - Λεξικον Ελληνικης Ορθοδοξιας. Light & Life Publishing, Minnesota, 1984. pp.225-226.


  • Rev. Dr. Nicon D. Patrinacos (M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon)). A Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy - Λεξικον Ελληνικης Ορθοδοξιας. Light & Life Publishing, Minnesota, 1984.