The day of the ultimate grief. He is on the cross now. Shops are closed till noon, when Jesus is taken off the cross and is taken by His beloved to His grave. The bells are sad, you can hear them in every neighborhood.
We usually eat just bread, tomatoes, olives, and boiled potatoes with vinegar this day. Plain food, no oil. And in the evening, we go to the Epitaph procession. After the first part of the mass, the younger priests take the epitaph, get it out of the church, and walk it with the people following around each neighbourhood. In big areas, like downtown Athens, where the churches are plenty, all the epitaphs meet in the centre and you can see thousands of people following the route, holding bee wax canddles. A sea of tiny flames really.
And on Good Saturday, the feast begins. Men and women are up early to begin the preparations. The men deal with the lamb and the kokoretsi (a medley of skewered innards wrapped tightly in intestine, doused with lemon, and either spit-roasted or baked). They tie the lamb to the spit, and let it stand all day for all the juices to flow. The kokoretsi takes hours of preparation. First, to clean all the intestines, wash them many times, turn them inside out. Then prepare the innards, spice them with salt, pepper, oreganon, put then on the spit, then wrap them with meters and meters of intestines.
In the meantime, women prepare the mageiritsa, a lemony lamb soup made mostly with the animal's offal, and lots of fresh lettuce and dill. And when I say lots of fresh lettuce, I mean 4-5 lettuces per kilo of offal and innards. Everything (lettuce, lotsa shallots, dill, innards and offal) are cut in tiny pieces, sauteed in butter mixed with olive oil, then cooked for a long time in low heat, till tender. A light lunch is consumed, pretty much like Good Friday, a nap is taken, and then the preparations for dinner begin. The good tableclothes get out of the drawers, crispy white linen ones mostly, the table is set, with the basket with the red dyed eggs on the centre of the table. People wear dressy clothes, and leave for church around 11 in the evening, all holding their special canddles, decorated with flowers and ribbons, or just long, plain white ones, and with a red egg in their pockets.
When the holy light gets distributed in the church, everyone lights their canddles, and this light goes home too. A cross is formed 3 times on the door of the house, and this light is kept in the vigil for 40 days. But when the bells ring happily, everyone is singing the resurrection hymn, and hug each other, strangers too, and kiss in both cheecks and one says: Jesus resurrected and the other replies: Resurrected indeed! Then the red eggs get out. We hold the egg on our palm, with the top free, and the partner take their egg and with the top of their egg they clink the other egg. Then they turn the bottom too and do the same. The one holding the egg that did not break is the lucky one. You have no idea how many eggs are used to play like this. Of course, before you hit the other's egg, you got to say Jesus ressurected, and they have to reply Ressurected indeed!
With so many broken eggs, egg salads are a staple the days to follow...
Some stay in church for the late night communion, which takes place around 2 am. It is beautiful. In our religion, you have to have confessed and fasted to be ready to take communion. Only on Good Saturday, the priest stands and calls the people to commune saying:
Come...sinners or not, fasters or not, thiefs or not, killers or not, confessers or not. He resurrected for you all and tonight your sins will all be erased with this communion of love and hope.
It brings tears to my eyes.
Women usually leave earlier to go home and finish the mageiritsa. They add the egg-lemon thingy to it, and finish setting the table. Then the happy dinner starts.
Noone goes to bed before 3 or 4 am and yet everyone is up by 7 am! The holes are digged, the coal gets on fire, the spits start turning. Everyone takes turns in turning the lamb and the kokoretsi. Altough there are machines to do this, most of the people still turn it with their hands. Lotsa wine is consumed, traditional greek songs play loudly, poeple are dancing, eating, laughing.
Angelos' unkle (his mom's brother) got in the hospital yesterday. Pneumonia. He was lucky, he will be fine. But he will spend Easter in the hospital. Angelos and I are seriously considering not leaving for the summer house today. We are thinking of calling our parents and ask them to come here for the Good Saturday dinner. Then leave bright and early on Sunday to go to the summer house and stay there till Monday evening. I just don't feel well thinking of my parents and his parents eating alone on Saturday night. My inlaws were supposed to go to this uncle's summer house. And my father is very tired from work, it is really busy that time of the year witht he fast and the seafood consumption, and needs to rest. But if we stay here, they will all rest and yet get to have a family dinner.
I weighed in this morning. pah...88.5 still. And I am really going to eat a lot tomorrow and sunday. I know it, I expect it, and I am not going to fight it either. It is part of the feast and I am not resisting!
I have come up with a challenge, starting May 2nd. A 30 day challenge. We are moving around June 1st the lattest. We gave the first rent as downpayment in the new appartment yesterday. I am getting excited. But since the building is brand new, they still have to connect electricity and water. They expect this will be done by May 10. Then we got to paint it, then move. I will tell you all about it soon, the challenge and the new appartment!
Right...I got to go call our parents now and see what we will do!