Friday, April 29, 2005
Good Friday & Good Saturday
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!

Posted by Argy at 10:14 am
9 Comments:
Blogger - u said...

hope angelo's uncle is better soon!

you know, sticking to the same weight is not so bad... and when you know events are coming up, my rule (for myself) is: enjoy yourself, make your next big meal a lighter one, drink drink drink. (;op i should follow my own comments sometimes!)

12:47 pm

 
Blogger Emma said...

:D Argy! I've finally managed to catch up on your life!

Well done on finding the apartment! That was quick work. And you have the advantage of not having to wait for a buyer for your current apartment, hurrah!

Oh and looking forward to hearing about the May challenge :)

1:28 pm

 
Anonymous Julie said...

I really loved reading all the details of your Easter traditions. It sounds beautiful and passionate!

3:01 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing those rituals. It all sounded so moving and beautiful. I'd love to experience it. Hopefully one day in the near future.

Renee

5:56 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm back. I'm back. I'm back.

Look so much to catching up.

and thanks for your kind words and thoughts.

Leigh
http://ejmarty.diary-x.com/

7:26 pm

 
Blogger M said...

Congratulations on finding an apartment, and it is great that you are able to paint it as it is new. Enjoy your Easter and after the festivities are over you can re-focus on yourself and your goals. Cheers :)

12:54 pm

 
Blogger ms ralph said...

It really sounds like a lot goes into the Greek Celebration. I hope you enjoyed it, don't let the scale bother you too much this week. Kisses.

11:07 pm

 
Blogger kimba said...

I was going to ask you about the procession - on Friday night my DH and I had gone to bed early and just as we went to bed we could hear singing in the street. I looked out my window and there was an absolute sea of people in our street, holding candles and singing. It was beautiful - there must have been about 5,000 people, our little street was full and they just kept coming and coming for ages.

I knew it was from the Greek Church around the corner and must be related to Easter but I wasn't sure exactly what it was for - thanks for your explanation! hope you had a lovely Easter weekend.

2:04 am

 
Anonymous Trish said...

Thank you for sharing your Easter celebrations...it sounds so beautiful and very emotional.

As for the scale, pah at it some more! Pah, pah, pah!

3:26 am

 

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About Me
I have spent all 36 years of my life loving life itself and this will never change. I am a great lover of the smallest things. I am addicted to smells and I attach them to people and events. It is impossible for me to wake up without ice in my coffee.

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Age: 37
Height: 1.68 cm
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