Holy Week and Easter

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.

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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Birthdays, Easter, a Nameday oh my…

Well what a busy two weeks it has been.  Since the last time I wrote we had family visiting to celebrate the little Miss’ birthday. I know everyone says it but seriously I can’t believe how the last year has flown by.  The first year is a whirlwind as you’re sleep deprived, unsure what to do with this tiny human.  The second year is different, you’re still unsure of what to do with this human but from a different perspective.  How to get them to stop jumping on the furniture or wanting to run in the street.  Trying to understand everything that they’re saying to you and helping them not get mad when they can’t communicate.  Trying to make sure you instill in them the important this in life for that age, things like: confidence, sharing, and trying to be an all around well natured child.

This year we had multiple events to celebrate the big day and were so lucky to have family and friends with us.  We went right from the parties to Orthodox Easter or Pascha as we call it.  It is a very special time of year where we are do things a little bit different than our other Christian friends.  First off is the date, Orthodox Easter always falls after Passover.  This year it was over a month after Catholic Easter.  Next year it will be together and then not again for eight years.  We’re not big into the bunny and chocolates.  We’re more into red dyed eggs and candles lit at midnight. Regardless of how you incorporate traditions into your Pascha, I hope it Χριστός Ανέστη!

Lastly we celebrated the Nameday of a special man in our lives, Παππού Γιώργο!  Pappou George and all of the George and Georgias celebrate their Nameday the Monday after Pascha when it falls after April 23rd. So this past Mondya we celebrated him and other cousins, aunts and uncles with those names.  Να σας χαιρόμαστε και να είσαστε πολύχρονη!

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Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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Summer is in fully swing…

Well summer is in full swing and we are trying to enjoy every minute of it.   Spending time outdoors, catching up with friends and just enjoying the extra hours of light outside.
Well I’d be lying if I told you that we have.  As a first time mom to a toddler, I’m trying to keep the same routine even in the summer.  I find my little one does better that way. So we eat an earlier dinner, go outside to enjoy the sun and then come in for a snack.  It seems to be working so far.

We also joined a new gym in the area.  It is very much geared towards families.  It has an amazing Kids Academy and programs for the older kids.  Missy really is enjoying it.  I can’t say she’s making friends but the staff sure have come to dote on her as we go in pretty much every day.  We also started her swimming lessons and I think we may have a fish among us.  She’s loving it and to see her smile when she kicking away is priceless!  I did have to speak to her at the first lesson because she was splashing the other kids in the face…she may get that from me.  Second lesson is this weekend so fingers crossed we’re still liking it.

We hope you’re all having a great summer so far.  Hard to believe that August 15th is less than a month away.  It is such a big feast day in the Orthodox Church.  I can’t wait to go to church with my little one on such a great holy day.  For my friends back in Beantown I hope you’re enjoying all of the Greek Festivals and eating lots of souvlakia and loukoumades.  To my friends in Toronto don’t forget that the Taste of the Danforth is coming up.  I’ve never been but I know it attracts hundreds of thousands of Hellenes and Philhelenes so get out there and support.

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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Chickens, puppies and piggies, oh my!

So today was one of those days. A lot has happened in the last two weeks since I wrote. Little Miss rolled over for the first time. Not sure who was more excited me or her dad who was showing the video to everyone!

She also was able to get lots of time in with her yiayia and pappou before they had to go back to the States. We had a wonderful visit with them and she was able to learn some more songs. As of right now pappou owes her 4 chickens, 7 puppies and 5 piggies. Let’s see if he pays up 🙂

Today is the feast day of the Virgin Mary and I decided to go to church…okay so this was picked up from Friday where I left off…it never ceases to amaze me at how people feel free to comment on anything and everything when you have a child. Little Miss behaved greatly. She had a bottle without a freak out before (go me on the timing) and I even was able to cool her down in the warm church. To cool her down off came her socks and sandals and obviously her blanket. So as church was wrapping up a couple of ladies came over to see her. The first thing they both said was how I needed to put socks in her right away so she won’t catch a cold. Did I also know how quickly babies can catch a cold?!? Okay so I might not be up on how fast a baby catches a cold, I’ll give you that one, but did you know my baby hates to be hot? Did you also know how I had been up 5 out of the last 7 nights because the house was wayyyy to hot for the little one? Did you know how I was the one that carried her for 40 weeks plus 10 days because she didn’t want to come out until she was ready? Did you know she is not like any other child as she is a complete individual. So my dear ladies, next time you want to tell me how my kid needs to wear socks in the middle of August in a non air conditioned church I may have a hard time biting my tongue.

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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40 Day Blessing

So my little one received her 40 Day Blessing this about 10 days ago.  Daddy, baby and I got ready, loaded up the diaper bag, car seat, blankets, etc., and off we went to church.  We got there right at the end as people were receiving the andithero.  Since I was an unblessed woman I couldn’t actually enter the church just the exo-narthex.  I guess going into it I didn’t realize that it was as much about me as it was about the baby.  I know my fellow Greek moms shared with me their experiences in a previous post but I guess I didn’t fully understand until I was there.  With my baby squirming in my hands and the priest reciting the prayers from his bible, I took a second to take it all in. To think about the women who came before me and who will come after me and partake in this important part of our Orthodox faith. As I was saying to my friend yesterday via Skype, it totally took me off guard how much it was about me the mom. Our priest is very thorough so we didn’t get the drive through blessing and had time to take it all in.

The blessing then got me thinking of the next big part of our Orthodox faith as a little one, the baptism. For those of you who don’t know in the Greek Orthodox faith you are baptized, confirmed and receive your first communion all in one sacrament. The planning has begun and I’m excited for the little one to officially enter our religion. I just keep wondering if she’ll be a screamer and cry during her ‘dunking’? How did your little ones do during their baptisms? Did they cry? Were they screamers or happy campers?

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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Blessed are the children…

Hello everyone,

It is so hard to believe that in a bit over a month our bundle of joy will be here.  That is if they aren’t stubborn and follow the “timeline”.  I’m packed and ready as they tell me you never know when the time will come.  Saying all that I wanted to take some time to discuss something that is very important in the Greek Orthodox faith and that is the 40-day blessing.  Similar to Jesus’ presentation to the temple, the thought is that you bring your child to church at the 40 day mark to be blessed by the priest.  Forty days after birth and in accordance with the Old Testament tradition observed by the Virgin Mary (Luke 2:22-24), the mother brings her child for its first visit to the Church. If they are a boy they are entered into the altar as well.  The Greek Orthodox Church still has a closed altar and females are not allowed to enter.  Certainly I have thought about having my child receive this blessing but as the time gets closer for our little one to arrive I wonder what does this really mean?  Will I be stuck in the house for 40 days without being able to leave ever?  I asked this question and some others to some of my girlfriends who have agreed to serve as ‘blog collaborators’ on certain subjects.  Certainly they have MUCH more experience in mommyhood than I do and I am so excited to be able to share all of this with them.

Question 1: Did you bring your child to church to be blessed on or around the 40th day and your thoughts on the overall blessing?
          One friend says, “I did bring both my children to be blessed around the 40th day and I really enjoyed the experience.  It was a chance for the baby to have an official outing, go to church and be introduced to the community.  It was an important milestone for me!”
Another friend says,  “I have had all three of my children brought to church for a blessing.  It was more towards to the 30 days, our priest does allow you to bring them a bit sooner.  I wanted to get them blessed because I have a strong faith and always seek God’s help in my daily life.”
Yet another friend stated that before her second child received their 40 day blessing she went to church for a Μνημόσυνο (memorial service) for her Godfather’s passing.  When she was spotted by the church secretary, she was shocked to see my friend and asked why she was there.  She explained and later found out that the blessing is as much about the mother as it is the baby.  She apparently wasn’t supposed to step inside of the church prior to the 40 day blessing.  She didn’t know this and felt anxious the entire time leading up to the blessing thinking something “bad” was going to happen to the baby or me.  Nothing did of course!

Question 2: Who went with you for the blessing? 
One friend said, “…whomever was available: husband, yiayiathes, and other children.”  Another states, “The godfather and yiayia came for my first child and the grandparents and godparents came for the second child. ” Yet another states, “…my husband for my first and my husband and older child for my second…I learned that our priest does not like it at all for other family members to attend.”

Question 3: Did you stay at home the entire 39 days leading up to your child’s blessing? Or did you go out but baby didn’t?
One friend says, “At first I scoffed at the idea not understanding the reasoning behind it, I chalked it up to superstition.  However after two pregnancies I realizes that a woman does need time to recover after her pregnancies.  I did find myself staying in most of the time when it was possible.”
A few friends stated that they went out but baby did not unless it was for an appointment with the doctor.  And yet another did venture out of the house before the baby was blessed but only during the day.

In reading all of this I found it interesting the differences between churches, priests and countries.  One friend stated that her aunt in Athens said something about the 40 day blessing now being 20 days staying at home but she didn’t doubt for a second that her deeply religious cousin stayed in the entire period.  Some priests do the blessing as part of the ceremony after the Sunday services and others have the family come in on a Saturday so the blessing is more private.

I always wonder if sometimes we Greeks of the diaspora have held on to these traditions more closely than our Greek counterparts.   Simply because we were brought up with the traditions of Greece circa 1950/60/70/80 or whatever year our parents immigrated to their new country.  They held on to this Greekness so tight in order to not lose their Greek identity and instilled in us these values and traditions.  I know that it is important for my husband and me to have our child blessed and start his/her life in the Greek Orthodox Church.  Whether or not I stay in the house for the 39 days prior or even if baby does, I’ll fill you in once that is happening.  Did you have your child receive the 40 day blessing?  Did you stay in or go out during this time?  I’d love it if you shared with me!

I did find a great section of Myth busters on a church site in Australia.  If you want to check them out, click here and go to the Myths ‘busted’ about Birth and Baptism section,

 

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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