Two messages on Greek Easter from the Hellenic Literature Discussion List (

Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 13:34:45 -0400

From: Homer Faidas []



Subject: Re: the Orthodox Church wrote:


> Gee whiz. This was nothing like the conservative and sacred ceremonies I

> remembered as a child growing up in Chicago! Anyone else besides me think

> that our parents and grandparents invented a "Greek culture" as they wanted

> it to be, rather than as it actually was in the homeland?


> Let's this isn't meant as a put down. Just an observation to share.

Let us not forget that our best (if we are lucky) and most deeply impressed memories come from childhood. We spend the rest of our lives complaining why things are not the way we remember them. I grew up in greece and fireworks was/is the most memorable easter characteristic.

My most memorable easter was in a remote nearly deserted village in Evros. The priest there (an adventurer who had been in the US and Argentina) had been sent to that village as a punishment for something he had done or said (it was junta time). Only 5-10 old men and women were left (the rest had gone to germany) and the restless priest was trying to bring people from outside. Somehow he convinced my father to take us there for a few masses during the holy week.

It was a long drive on dirt roads eroded by winter rains. Most of the houses in the village were deserted. A few old men were sitting at the coffee house under a large tree. The women were in church. It was late april and vegetation was orgiastic. Trees were coming out of fallen roofs, branches were reaching out of windows. Everything was in full bloom.

The church was small and dark. The candles were casting long shadows. Inside on one side were the old women dressed in black wrinkled and bent crossing themselves all the time repenting for old sins. On the other side was a chorus of young 15-16 year old girls the priest had recruited from neighboring villages. I remember them sing "W gluku mou ear", the passion in their white pale faces, their open mouths, their long stretched out necks, personifications of innocence and virginity. Walking behind the epitaph, around the church, under the light of candles (no electricity) breathing an air heavy with fragnances was an unbelievably pagan experience, as easter should be. Greek easter is a continuation of the eleusinian mysteries. It is a pagan celebration of the ressurection of nature after the long winter death. A rejoicing with fireworks and feasts.

Those few who want to cleanse orthodoxy of its pagan roots are fighting a loosing battle.

Homer Faidas


Date: Fri, 2 May 1997 11:36:45 GMT

From: Marilyn Taylor [taylorm@ADMIN.EDGE-HILL-COLLEGE.AC.UK]


Subject: re. the Orthodox Church

I have attended Easter Services and the festivities on the island of Symi for several years. Yes, there is an informality in the behaviour of the congregation which contrasts sharply with the formality of the beautiful Orthodox ritual. But to me, it seems absolutely appropriate - as an outsider I feel that people have a real sense of involvement, a sense of 'ownership', and a comforting familiarity.

The traditional firework throwing seems to be losing some of its old focus - on Symi the noise seems to start at least a week before, with a crescendo on the Friday evening ( bringing complaints from some of the older people). Obviously Saturday night is still the pinnacle of this - accompanied on Symi by dynamite- throwing in the hills ( I understand this also happens on Kalymnos).. From a high point, looking out across the island, the views are incredible - churches wreathed in bright red clouds from smoke-bombs, with the letters 'XA' picked out in coloured lights on the bell-towers. Huge explosions which shake the island as more dynamite is exploded up in the mountains. The smaller constant explosions of the tiny firecrackers, mixed with voices of people calling out to each other the 'Cristos Anesti' and 'Kalo Pasca'.. The tiny lights of candles in the narrow streets and alleyways as people try to keep the flame alive until reaching home.

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