Sunday, 15 April 2012

Xristos Anesti!

Xristos Anesti everyone! Christ has risen! Yep, Greek Easter is 'different' this year - we run on our own schedule! Yesterday I informed you of the Epitafio and what that entailed on Friday night, well now I will lead you through Saturday and Sunday's events!

So Saturday morning, most Greeks are up at the crack of dawn for 2 reasons. One is to get to the butchers at stupid o'clock to get the best meat for the feast on Sunday (and there will forever be queues outside until the last scrap of meat is sold)
and the second reason is to go to Church again. What we do this time, is get cleansed by the blood and body of Christ. So before even eating or drinking anything that morning, we all queue up, kiss the Epitafio (maybe steal a flower or two from it!)
and then meet the Baba (the Priest) who will feed us a spoonful of sweet red wine and give us a blessing. Yep, all of God's (Greek) children share off the same spoon - we make a joke about getting ill haha but of course it's nothing to worry about really! After that, there is a basket of chopped up bits of bread which symbolise Jesus' body, which we are then to eat. Then we are free to go home and eat our breakfast. Many stay for the entire time to hear the service but often Churches cannot accommodate all the people that come by!

There is often some flaouna eating at this point mmm... tasty pastries that only appear this time of the year and all the women of the family will make them by the case load - often running out of oven/storage space in their homes! They then force feed them to family members and demand you tell them whose tastes the best...!

Saturday night - midnight mass. It's time for Church again! Everyone gathers to their church for the moment when Christ rises again. At midnight, all the lights in the church go off and at the stroke of midnight the holy candle is lit. This flame is then passed around until everyone has a candle lit from this holy light.
The challenge is to preserve this flame and take it back to your home without it being blown out, for a special blessing! Of course there is danger of hair being set on fire and wax dripping all over your clothes, shoes and carpet again; health and safety eat your heart out! On the drive home, you can spot the Greeks a mile away with their glowing cars! 

After midnight, we are free to eat whatever we want again, and many take this opportunity to go to the nearest place to find meat! Some have a special feast all ready for when they get home too!

All day Sunday is a day of eating, really! In the morning there is the good old 'egg war' whereby there is a competition to have the winning egg to withstand all the others - there's good luck in it for the winner! Typical Greeks always have a trick up their sleeve to make sure they win though...!
Then there is the big Sunday feast of lamb and anything else you can get your hands on, eating so much that you fall into a meat coma! Easter really is such a great day for us, and the Greek restaurants are happy as well as everyone is eating meat again, opa! Hope you all had a great weekend and Xristos Anesti! 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Epitafio Problems!

So last night was the very important "Epitafio" at Church whereby Jesus' "tomb" is decorated with flowers in each Greek Orthodox Church around the world and then carried out into the streets while all the Greeks walk behind it holding candles. This is the night when Jesus died on the cross and is a serious time of mourning and should be respected.

Of course I did take it seriously in my heart, however there are comical moments in our culture that no matter how serious it is, you gotta just laugh and I like to share those moments, so sorry if you got offended! 

On Twitter last night we had an 'epidafio update' while everyone was sharing their funny stories and pictures of their night and 'problems'. I think this is so important, not only for comedy factors but also to help those who couldn't make it to a Church, really feel like they were a part of it.

First of all, good luck finding a parking space within walking distance to your Church. You will likely see cars littered all over the place in places I'm sure they shouldn't be. "Ah, I won't get a ticket, I'm going to Church ene" OK dad...
Second of all, good luck getting a seat in Church. Unless you have been there all day (unlikely unless you are over the age of 80) then you will be standing in every floor space available, (if you're lucky), if not you will be standing outside...

Inside the Church is the beautiful Epitafio, decorated with white flowers. This is then carried outside, really slowly and then all the people follow behind it. The walk is about 15-20mins long depending on your area, but my oh my what an experience it is! First of all, get ready to see lots of people you know. You may leap and hug a few, but then duck and run from some others!
(Image courtesy of a #typicalgreek follower)

You will also get stared at by every non-Greek civilian. I saw people taking pictures of us from the street, people stopping us asking what we are doing etc. We like to cause a commotion. It's also really empowering when we stop traffic. Yes you 3eni, you will respect the PROPER Good Friday whether you want to or not! Cars were stuck as we marched through the middle of the main road and they could do nothing but sit and watch!

As I mentioned before, most people would be carrying candles.. cue drippy wax and flamed hair! It can get very messy... 

Ladies, please control your hair from flying in the wind because no one is accountable for it being set alight, but you! You will just get dirty looks for causing a drama over your hair. Also while I'm at it, don't cause a scene when you slip because of those high heels you have chosen to wear either, this isn't a fashion show! I know you want to find a husband... but I don't think you'll impress anyone while you run around screaming with your hair on fire and trip over your broken heel...? And guys, I don't think that girl you're winking at is really going to appreciate you choking her with your heavy cologne either...

Finally, although there are funny things about what we do, let's remember the real meaning behind this special time of year. I did light a candle for all you @TypicalGreek followers and readers of this blog, and I pray you have a safe and happy Easter! Kali Anastasi!
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