The radio stations do not play upbeat, happy songs. TV programs have been changed to accomodate the various films about the Passion Week, as we call it. And any other religious films too, like Noah's Ark, or Ben Hour, or John the Baptist, etc.
Yesterday was the palm sunday, where everybody eats fish for lunch and dinner, in remembrance of the fish and bread distributed to all those people by Jesus and the desciples.
In the households things change. Come Good Monday, everyone is fasting - or at least is pretending they are fasting. There are certain things that are vastly cook during the passion week. And certain things allowed too. In general, during the Lent, one can eat the following: vegetables, vegetable fats and oils, seafood (because it has no blood), legumes, rice, pasta, seeds, fruits, cereal. The combinations and the recipes are unlimited. But during the Passion Week, things become tougher.
On Good Monday, Good Wednesday, and Good Friday, olive oil or any other oil or vegetable fat is not consumed. Food is usually a potato salad with onions, parsley, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, vinegar, oreganon or thyme. Boiled or grilled seafood. Black eye beans with lots of dill and shallots and vinegar. Pasta with tomatoe sauce and olives with no oil in the sauce and no cheese on top too! And dessert is always halva. There must be tons of halva consumed by the greeks during the Passion Week!
The torment is that on Good Monday and Tuesday the easter cookies are made. They are two special recipes that everyone is making. You walk on the streets and you can smell the cookies everywhere! They have also special shapes. The one recipe, containing fresh butter, olive oil, orange juice, ammonia, flour, eggs, sugar are formed like a small braid with two parts, symbolises the good and evil co-existing in everything. This is the mainland recipe. In the islands they also add anice.
Then there is the recipe from the greeks that used to live in Smyrna and the Asia Minor. Where my father's family comes for. My mother's family have been Athenians from as back as they can remember. My mother makes both recipes, as a tribune to both families. The Smyrna cookies are to die for. They are so buttery. Fresh goat butter is beaten up for ever. A bit of flour, a bit of sugar, a bit of cognac, some eggs, some orange zest and they all hug each other to a crispy cookie that is so soft and yet so crunchy that makes the perfect one to dig in your coffee or tea. The shape here is different. You take a bit of the dough roll it to a long string, and then turn it around to form a perfectly round spiral. This symbolises our core. As soon as we start from our core and expand around it, but in close contact, we form a whole - symbolised by the perfect circle. I can kill for these cookies, and I am not too fond of cookies either!
The good baskets or porcelain or silver trays get out of the clossets, the cookies are arranged to form a little mountain, and they are left in the dinning room table to torment us. I remember when we were kids and we had to wait till Easter Sunday to eat the cookies. We would wake up, make milk with a splash of Nes Cafe, and would dig the cookies and moan! Then there are the other baskets in the dinning table.For the grannies. The inlaws. The family of the married simbings. The godchildren. These basket are filled with something each day. First the cookies, arranged in one corner, to leave enough space for the rest, that are going to be made tomorrow, wednesday, and thursday. And they are given on Good Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Like my mother, I am making both recipes. On Good monday we make the Smyrna ones. And on Tuesday we make the mainland ones. I usually start making them around 10 in the evening, and that lasts till after midnight. I am making dozens and dozens because I am making too many baskets. One for my parents, one for Angelos parents, one of my brother and the kidies, one for my aunt, one for Angelos granny, one for Vangelis and Sofia, one for each of my 2 best girlfriends, one for my partner, one for my god - daughter (I have one gorgeous god daughter, who is 20 years old. I baptised her when I was sixteen :). We sleep in a cookie house, Angelos usually says teasingly. And wake up to a house full of the smell too. Torment, I tell you!
Surprisingly, during the Passion Week, the churches are full with young people too. The mass during these days are gorgeous. The hymns are passionate, the music fills the heart.
Of course, Good Monday is the last day of spring cleaning too. The curtains are washed and hanged again, the carpets have been removed, the house is gloriously clean and polished to accept the big feast: Resuraction and rebirth of nature!
The marathon was tough. My work was intense and painful and deep on Saturday. I came home at 9 in the evening and spent the rest of it (well, the couple of hours I managed to remain awake) in Angelos arms with a serenity and tranquility I had not felt in years. We had dinner and I craved for a Corona, something that doesnt happen often, so I had one. As I was drinking it, I was feeling so happy to give myself a treat that so much craved. With absolutely no guilt. One thing I learned and experienced this weekend is that guilt and shame are both toxic. Not for the soul only. But for the body too. When you feel shame or guilt, the body get tensed. A tensed body clings. When the body clings, it detains. Energy do not flow freely. And in certain parts, different to each, stagnant energy accumulates. Parts become isolated from the whole. The body aches for them.
I am again in awe for the body, and its memory. The foetal to 18 months old experiences re-lived by all of us were incredible. A woman experienced a secual abuse she had when she was 16 months old. She begun by feeling extreme disgust. She vommited. Then she felt the fear. Then she wanted to push her legs and resist and hit someone. She was screaming and crying and yelling and could feel a man present but did not know who. She sounded like a baby crying saying in baby language no no dont do this you love me you love me! She asked her mother about it. Her mom admitted crying that when she was almost a year and a half, she had left her with a neighbour, and when she went to pick her up, she saw her gf's husband alone with her daughter, having her naked in his lap, with his hands on the baby's vagina. She felt something was wrong because the baby was crying, but he refused everything, said that his wife was out shopping, the baby was crying and he thought that cos it was summer he thought she was hot and undressed her.
I am not yet ready to talk about my foetal experience. I am still too overwhelmed.
I weighed in this morning. 88.1 And I am expecting my period in the next few days too. I am really pleased with this. And very pleased with myself for how I have eaten lately. My weight loss was thoroughly admired by the rest of the people in the marathon. Some I had not seen for a year or so. We had 3 new girls too. One was a bit overweight, but felt and acted as if she was 150 kilos heavy, although she is just 10 kilos more than her ideal weight. The other too were obese. I brought them pictures of me on Sunday. I think we became friends and that I gave them some hope that it is doable. I am really honoured for this.
So the festival is over. A huge relief. But work is going to be frantic today and tomorrow too. Because there is a new cd released on Wednesday, so we have to make and send about 300 press kits with the new cd, and we also have 3 small, new theatrical companies premiering between 4 and 10 of May and we have to make sure everything has been received and written.
But we are working till Good Wednesday, and then we decided to close from Good Thursday. Usually we work till Good Friday at noon, but this year we have all been too overworked, we are taking a longer break. Back to work is May 3 :)
And it is also the first year we still have not concrete plans. It is either in Vangelis and Sofias village (oh I so wish it will be this one!!!) or our summer house near Cape Sounion. Well, actually, my brother and 2 other couples will conquer the house, so Angelos and me will have to stay in another friend's house, but it will be either or. Sofia will know tomorrow if they can go (they are building their house, and they are having the last details to be done before painting begins, so all depends on the workers). If they can, I will have my favourite time of the year, in my favourite place: a small village by the sea that everything happens at the most traditional way. Bliss!!!
Right...mamouth post and I am late for the shower...!