Two messages on Greek Easter from the Hellenic Literature
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 13:34:45 -0400
From: Homer Faidas [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Re: the Orthodox Church
> 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
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
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.
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.