Sunday, 24 April 2011

Kalo Pascha

So today is Easter Day! It's a celebration that Christ has risen again and everyone can finally break their fast and devour the much craved for meat! Did you know that the word Easter is come from the Greek word "pascha" which means passover (the eternal passover from earth to heaven)? Yeh, they stole that from us...

OK so last night after church and the soup, you may have had the EGG WAR! Sometimes this is done on Sunday mornings with your breakfast though...
Basically, you know all those dyed eggs that were made the other day? Well, now we get to break them! It's actually a lot of fun and of course is symbolic of life (everything us Greeks do is symbolic!) So everyone chooses an egg from the basket and people take it in turns to tap everyone else's. If yours doesn't break then you will have good luck for the year! Oh and watch out for cheeky yiayias who seem to know the trick of holding the egg in a perfect way that it's almost impossible to break... 

Onto the feast.. ahh! Well the men were probably up from 6am this morning lighting up the garvourna and getting the lamb on a spit. Once the clay oven is heated up, it can take the meat over 4 hours to cook! But man oh man, is it soft and tender... Just the smell alone is enough to torment everyone, let alone the fact that many have been deprived of meat for 40 days!

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(Images courtesy of our twitter followers!)

Nothing goes to waste with the Greeks, the entire lamb is eaten; eyeballs, brains, tongues and all! The bones can be chucked to the dogs too... Greeks will eat like they have haven't eaten for months! The men will most likely have a plate of pure meat, forget the side dishes they just take up space. It's often a good idea to take a short break to allow your food to digest so you have space for more meat later on... and of course you will be having leftovers for the next few days as well. 

Kalo pascha everyone, I hope you all had an amazing day and enjoyed your meat binge!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

It's Holy Saturday

So last night was when Jesus died on the cross. Most Greeks got up early this morning to go to Church again, where we took a spoonful of wine from the priest and a small piece of bread; these symbolise the blood and body of Christ, a complete cleansing of your sins! If you don't get to the Church early (that means way before 8am) then you will find a massive queue to get to the priest!

Also this morning, the Greek men of the family took a trip to the butchers for all the meat they're going to cook up tomorrow. Now, if they were clever they would have got there before 6am so they would only take an hour to get served... unfortunately as the day goes on you will notice every Greek butcher has got a queue about a mile long outside their shop! Happy days for the butcher but all the best meat goes quickly.

(Disclaimer: if the sight of dead animals offends you I should warn you, you won't get on with Greeks very well and for your own sanity you probably should get off this blog too as you won't like what is coming tomorrow...)

Tonight at midnight, is when midnight mass takes place; basically it's the moment when Christ was resurrected. Like last night's event, everyone gathers at church with an unlit candle. The priest then distributes the Holy Light to everyone. If you can get home with your candle still lit then you will have good luck that year!

There is a huge celebration at midnight when Christ is resurrected! Then everyone goes home and has their mageiritsa soup (a lovely concoction of lamb organs). Obviously, this is the first bit of meat that most Greeks will have had in 40 days so people really tend to look forward to that!

Finally there is the egg cracking competition, but I will leave that for tomorrow's post along with the trunk load of meat...!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Good Friday - Megali Paraskevi

So today is the special Megali Paraskevi (Good Friday) where Jesus was crucified on the cross. It is a special weekend for all Christians around the world today, but the Greeks have their own way of celebrating this.

Yesterday was holy Thursday and is the special day for dying the eggs. Typically, they are meant to be dyed red which is the symbol and colour for life. Nowadays, we often like to have a variety of different coloured eggs:

These eggs will be saved for Sunday morning... more about that this weekend!

Tonight, many Greeks will make their way to church for a special service. All day yesterday, many of the women were working on something called the 'epitaphios' which is also known as the Bier of Christ, which is covered with flowers so that on Good Friday morning, it is ready to receive the image of the body of Christ when he is taken down from the Cross.

Good Friday is a day of mourning. The icon of Christ is taken down and wrapped in linen and put in the epitaphios, symbolising Christ in his tomb. Late on Friday night, this epitaphios is then carried around the town and everyone walks behind it on mass holding lighted candles taken from Church. 

It is a very emotional day, hence the more serious tone of this post. So many are happy having this day off as a bank holiday when really, it is something very precious that should never be forgotten.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Grenglish/Greeklish Language

Grenglish or Greeklish, is a language that has developed by Greeks who don't necessarily live in Greece or Cyprus so they mix up their English and Greek! The best thing about it, is that there are no rules!! Words are often made up to sound "Greeky", and sentences are often mixed with both laugages. (NB some of these are known to be Cypriot slang!)

Read and observe some examples below:

Steki - Steak
Baso - Bus
Mersendez - Mercedes
Panjero - Pajero
Mangas - cool guy
Ketro - Kettle
Mobilo - Mobile
Itsorait - It's alright
Xaallo - Hello
Eniksero - I don't know
Tazijis - Taxi driver

Basically, people take the English work and "Greekify" it! It can be done with absolutely anything. Give it a go below!
Give me a word, aaaany word and I make it Greek for you!

You can also make sentences in Grenglish like this:

"Ela re, do you want to have some steki popse?"
"Vale to ketro pano, i want some chai"

"Aman, she's a right mounara"
"Look at him, he thinks he's a right manga, what a malaka..."
"Come on re, let's take my dad's Mersendez out and find some kopeles"
"Go pas to Facebook sou and find him"

And there are many, many, many more... I see people doing it all the time on twitter as well so I know you guys do it too!

What Greeklish/Grenglish words or phrases do you find yourselves using? Share them below!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Religious Mannerisms - let it rain!

Goodness me, signomi for not posting in such a long time!

Right, today's post is a continuation of the last post of Religious Mannerisms... I ended the last one with a preview of yiayia waking you up in her own special way; so here it is, much awaited for I'm sure.

Many Greek people have probably experienced this. You're having a well deserved lay in on Sunday morning (and by lay in that means it's probably only about 9am...). 
You are enjoying your nice warm, cosy bed and a pleasant dream. Randomly, you think you hear your bedroom door open and maybe a creek on your floor boards... but you ignore it and carry on in dream land, probably thinking about the upcoming souvla that day. 

Suddenly, you feel water droplets splattering over your face. You try to ignore it and keep dreaming, but it isn't stopping! You eventually force your eyelids open and let out an annoyed groan. Right in front of you, you see your yiayia standing over you dipping a bunch of leafy twigs into some water and splatting them all over your face. You try and shield yourself from the water but she shouts at you for doing that, as it's holy water and you should be grateful! 
Once you're up, she spins around and starts splatting around the rest of your room too. In your half asleep state, you sit and watch water marks appear on the mirrors, your paper work and letters on your desk get wet, and let's not get started on the state of your hair...

But at least you have been blessed! She will then waddle around the rest of the house and bless everything and everyone in it, even annoying your poor pet cat...

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Greek Religious Mannerisms

Greeks are very religious people, but it extends further than just going to church every Sunday and fasting every Easter. 

Have you ever been in a car full of Greeks or been driving next to one, and you suddenly see them all simultaneously and speedily start waving their arms from their heads to their chests, right shoulder and left shoulder, 3 times in a cross motion? Well don't worry, it's totally normal! We do this cross or "stavro" whenever we pass by a Greek Orthodox Church.
So if someone in the car isn't doing their stavro as they drive past the church, they might be in for a slap around the head to remind them to do it! It's a respect thing, and you feel strangely guilty if you don't do it... 

The stavro is also done whenever someone says something which you hope will never happen, or don't want to be cursed/jinxed. Here's a good example:

We also perform our own exorcisms (taken from the Greek word Exorismos). That's right... if we feel there is evil surrounding us, for example if things keep going wrong or we have had bad news, it's time to bless the house. We light up a kapnisis which is has a few lumps of coal and special dried leaves which burn creating a holy smoke. We run to each room in the house and do 3 anticlockwise circles around each religious icon in the room with it. People can be blessed also; they need to wave their hand 3 times over the smoke in an anticlockwise motion too, thus blowing the smoke towards them. Then of course, they do their stavro 3 times! (The symbolism of everything done 3 times, is for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in case you were wondering!) This ritual is also performed on peoples' birthdays and other special occasions.

Look out for the next post which involves being woken up by your yiayia blessing you with holy water...

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