Daily life on a greek island through the eyes of a local-alien, still 'foreign' even after 40 years residence. This 'foreigner' is a local-KIWI-alien so there is a New Zealand flavour to my writing. Photo above is the tranquil view from Pukehina Beach, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
Thursday of Holy Week This is the day we traditionally dye our red eggs.
Done and dusted
Red eggs boiled, dyed and polished with olive oil. I boiled the eggs last night and our traditional person got into action early this morning to make sure operation red-egg was carried out to his satisfaction . He dyed and polished them all himself.
Tonight is the long service of the reading of the Twelve Gospels. At the end of the evening women remain to decorate the bier of Christ with flowers, preparing for Good Friday when his effigy is removed from the cross and placed amongst the flowers. They often go out in groups to see what the women in the other churches have done and admire and gossip. My daughters and usually a grandaughter or two usually take part in the ritual. The after midnight run to the other churches with giggly friends and the competition for best decorated bier is always a big draw.
I just got a call from my daughter asking if we have any blossom on our lemon trees. None this year at all. It was all destroyed in last weeks hail storm. They are scrambling round to find enough flowers to cover the big wooden platform.
25th April ANZAC day Australian and New Zealand Army Corp Remembrance Day in both countries
Easter Exodus Number plates and licences confiscated over the last few months are being given back so everyone can leave the city. This happens every year and shows how important it is that the average Greek can return to their village or island to take part in the diverse customs and rites of their place of birth. Most importantly they make their mother happy by connecting with her first of all and then the extended family of which they are an integral part wherever they may live the rest of the year. They don't go on holiday, they go home. Deep family roots. When someone is asked where they come from here in Greece and they reply 'Athens' the next question will be, 'yes, but where are your roots'. They will reply, 'well, my father came from this island and my mother from this village' and the 'asker' will say 'ahhhh, so you're a Poroioti' (from Poros) or whatever. Thousands leave the big cities for their small village wherever that may be. There will extra buses, trains and ferries to carry them home and the outward lanes of the national highways are opened up to carry the extra traffic. There will be one lane for incoming cars at the toll booths and 7 or 8 for departing cars, and vice versa as the week ends. The church is an important part of their lives whether they attend church or not in the city. Every evening service this week will have crowds at the churches, coming and going, lighting candles, greeting long lost friends and family and even listening to the priest and taking part of the service. Holy Thursday today. More to come
Wednesday of Holy (Great) week Easter cookie day - the day of the koulourakia
Overcast today with short rain showers. The air is thick with dust from the Sahara desert. Rain turns it into a thin layer of red mud which sticks to everything. The dust in the air turns eyes red and makes allergies worse. So much for cleaning. There was no cleaning today. We went for our big easter shop, picking up essential alcohol and all the ingredients for the easter koulourakia (cookies/biscuits). We picked up the grandkids and brought them up to help with the preparations. The boys bundled up prunings from the grapevine and the jasmine ready to be burnt on the BBQ. Nels made the dough for the easter cookies and then they all rolled and shaped and made a mound of koulourakia.
Hopefully they were having fun as well
The kids don't fast though two of them are not eating meat this week. They sampled the koulourakia and ate a pile of them too. So did I. No-one else is allowed to try them till Easter Sunday, after the fast is broken, They are made with eggs, butter and milk and also ouzo and orange zest for aroma. Darn good batch!
Every year we make the same recipe and every year it turns out a little different. Nels and the rest of the kids excelled themselves this time!
23rd April we would normally be celebrating St George When it falls during Lent we celebrate it instead on the Monday after Easter Sunday. This year we'll be having two days back to back of eating and drinking. St George is a very popular saint, the slayer of dragons and Patron Saint of England. Any one named after him in Greece, Georgios or Georgia has their name day, on the 29th April this year. Our tall grandson is Georgios and so are many of friends and other relatives. At least the feasting will not be taking place at our house.
Two of my NZ pumpkin seeds have sprouted!! Yeh And the bad news. Our washing machine has broken down. My washing machine fixer-upper thinks it's not too serious and he can keep it working at least till after easter. So that's the bad with a little sunshine.
Except, I have men with dirty shoes trailing fine metal dust from a welding torch through the house. And my oven, stove, cooking facilities are in pieces, bringing down the trip switch every few minutes and leaving me power/wifi-less mid sentence while trying to write a blog post.
Not my space any more
Yesterday K decided to exchange my perfectly good oven for another he had 'overhauled'. Heavens to Betsy I say with a big sigh. Now. Easter week?
When something's not broken you don't fix it. Well, now this is broken and the old one which worked perfectly has been taken off to recycling. There is a bright side. At least the old stove is not lounging around in the back garden along with an old bicycle, broken down rotary digger, washing machine, and lawn mower. We don't have a lawn to mow.
The welding is being done on the turning mechanism of the big brick BBQ. As we'll be spit roasting a lamb on one spit-pole with another spit-pole of innards and another with pieces of pork this easter Sunday it has been decided we 'need' (urgently) a central spit-turning system for even and effortless cooking.
Great Week or Holy Week Easter is the most important celebration of the year. Second I would put 15th August (marking the 'falling asleep' of the Virgin Mary) and Christmas a lowly third, or even fourth. New Years is celebrated more than Christmas and St Basil brings the children their presents on 1st January not St Nick on 25th December. Great Monday So begins 'Great week' leading up to Easter Sunday in the greek orthodox church. There is a church service every evening relating to the last week in Christ's life Most housewives are spring cleaning this week. Me too, a little. All this in preparation for the Sunday easter feasting and the visit of my nephew and neice coming over for 'The Greek Easter Experience' In our old house, when we were younger and more eager we would whitewash the walls and the edges of the road around the house. I don't think many people whitewash any more though municipal workers usually whitewash all the flights of steps in the town.
Dyed easter eggs from years gone by
2011 and 2013
The yolks go hard after a few years and resemble a yellow globe of some precious stone
Sunday 21st April Palm Sunday in Greece The second of the fish eating days during Lent. We're allowed to eat fish today, and drink wine. I think it was at the church in the small Cretan village where we lived for a while that we were given fried fish after the church service. Probably with a few glasses of wine as well. Our fellow Cretan villagers followed the traditions strictly, back in the 80s, but they knew how to enjoy life. We lived in the tiny village of Mournies for only a year and will never forget the good times. There were two big tavernas and a pitta bread factory. OMG thosed fresh pittes. They didn't need cooking. We lined up to get them hot as they came out of the ovens. Palm Sunday. Kyriaki Ton Vayion Sunday of the Vayion as it is known here. The churches and icons are decorated with this plant whose name in english I have yet to discover.
This is the bunch of Vayion that my daughter was handed after church this morning
I write. I create. I observe and record my life, after 40 years, in Greece. I love to create either with my handy craft, cooking or writing. Freeform always. Keep it simple, keep the interest, make it useful. I write about my garden sometimes, my grandchildren and the different culture and traditions. My New Zealand up bringing was so different from this way of life that I do truly feel like an alien at times. Greece is home but so is my kiwi 'homeland'. I am a citizen of both and an alien in both.