And so it has begun, we’re into our blessed Holy Week and Easter time. It started for us on Palm Sunday. When the twice a year folks come out in full force to attend church and receive Holy Communion. Now I have to say that since my kid became a toddler our frequency of attending church has lessened but it doesn’t go unnoticed. I honestly had no idea that our church had so many children under the age of five that belonged to it. Where are you all hiding I wanted to shout? Why don’t you come out more often? This way we could have programs for the little people. Since I didn’t feel right shouting this in the middle of a standing room only church where administering communion to those who wanted to partake took over 30 minutes, I did the best I could to keep my toddler quiet. I know some people don’t bother going with little ones because it is too much work. I agree, the fight before of why she couldn’t wear her SuperGirl cape on top of her dress was a doozy but in the end, mom won (this one time). We will be in attendance on Good Friday at the apokathilosi and since the Epitafio is around bedtime over here we’ll be passing on that one. Although I do have to say, I miss it. I miss spending every night of the week at church. There is something to be said as you listen to the Hymn of the Kassiani on Holy Tuesday, receive the Holy Unction on Holy Wednesday and hear the reading of the 12 Gospels on Holy Thursday. A feeling of calmness comes over me, in my case, and gets me prepared for the Epitafio on Good Friday and then the Anastasi Service which takes place the evening of Holy Saturday into Easter Sunday.
Our traditions may be seen as weird by some or gross by others, but to me they bring comfort. I’ll never forget watching my mom making magiritsa (my American friends called this lamb gut soup) for the first time. Or being on the telephone chatting with a friend while my mom tried to crack the lamb’s skull open to get to the “good stuff” as I was told. Really how do you explain this over the phone to a non-Greek? Sorry about the banging but we’re just trying to get to the lamb brain. Or what about the cross on the doorway of your home with the Holy Light from Anastasi. Try explaining that to the fire chief and firefighters who come to your home for a contained fire. But those of you reading this who are Greek, with a Greek or married to a Greek get it. Easter wouldn’t be the same without the red eggs, the lambathes, the Xristos Anesti or the lamb and potatoes. Easter is a celebration of life. Chirst is risen and may He rise up through each and every one of us. I wish you all a Blessed Holy Week and a Kalo Pasxa.
Click here for a Magiritsa recipe from my friend Peter Minaki, aka Kalofagas.
I know religion is such a hot topic most of the time. Recently I was home with the little one on a Sunday morning and two kind individuals took the time to come knock on my door and want to invite me to Jesus’ funeral. They had a paper invitation and everything. Now as a woman who spent 12 years in Catholic School, 4 years in a Jesuit College, countless years as a Sunday School student and teacher and a lifetime at Sunday Mass, I’m not one to shy away from a conversation around religion. While I thanked the individuals for stopping by and their invitation I let them know I’d happily invite them to come to my church the week after their ‘funeral’ (I am Greek Orthodox after all) and see a funeral done properly. One that includes flowers, an Ἐπιτάφιο, chanting, etc. I also told them I’d happily host them on Holy Saturday night for midnight mass and they can be part of the amazing service where the church lights and candles are all turned off/put out and the priest comes out with the Αγιο Φος (Holy Light) to represent Jesus’ resurrection. Needless to say the individuals left and took their invitation with them as they had no desire to speak about religion but rather just wanted to tell me about their religion.
This got me thinking about all of the wonderful traditions that we’re about to embark on with the little lady for the first time. Not only are we about to celebrate του Ευαγγελισμου and Greek Independence Day tomorrow but also the important Easter traditions that will be coming soon after that. As a Greek it is special because I know that I’ll be passing down traditions that have been passed down from generations. From Palm Sunday Mass to dying red Easter eggs on Holy Thursday, to making κουλουρακια with γιαγια, I can’t wait to see the excitement in her eyes.
I was able to find this site of Greek Poems which brought me back to my Greek School days and the events that we’d have. Dressed up in our Vasilissa Amalia outfits and the boys as τσολιαδες, standing in front of the community and reciting poems that our parents recited before us. Remembering the struggles and just having an overall sense of pride. My father served as an Evzone in the Greek Army. He stood at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and represented Greece abroad. He did his part for his country. I can only hope that one day my daughter understands what this meant. This will be done by more than just standing on a parade route and shouting Ζητο! This will be done by living our Greekness.
A friend once said that he didn’t want to be a plate breaking, τιροπιτα eating Greek. I say bring that on because it is part of who we are, but don’t stop there. Let’s teach the next generation about the history of then and the history that is taking shape in Greece today. Let’s remind them that Greece is more than φραππεδες and beautiful beaches. Let’s do our job and raise the next generation of ελληνακια right!
For my friends celebrating in Toronto you can find parade information here. For my friends celebrating in Boston you can find parade information here.
Ζητο η 25η Μαρτιου! Ζητο η Ελευθερία!
Η Ελλαδα ποτε δεν πεθενει!