Thursday, 16 August 2018

Holiest of Holy-s

We survived the traffic jams on the island, the lines in the supermarket, jostling crowds along the harbour.  15th August has come and gone and the end is nigh.  This Sunday should see a snaking line of cars waiting to board the car ferry and leave for wherever, we don't care.  There will still be crowds but slowly our island will return to its sleepy norm.  Kids go back to school in a month.

From now on departees will be wishing us 'kalo himona' (good winter) and 'till next summer' when they'll all come back again.

The Dormition of the Virgin Mary is mid-summer and a very merry fiesta.  Mary did not die, 'she went to sleep and was joyfully reunited with her son in heaven'.

All over Greece there are huge fiestas, especially on the islands.  Paros, Naxos, Tinos, Ikaria with its heathful aging population, party for days on end.

The Madonna has seen Greeks through many hard times, saved Constantinople from Barbarian hordes, delivered villages from Nazi slaughter, cured and healed, not only in Greece of course.

Churches on Poros were crowded for the morning service.  We went down to the waterfront for coffee before they emptied out onto streets and into cafeterias.  My sis-in-law appeared with a handful of holy bread and offered us a small piece.  It must be all eaten, not a crumb should be wasted.

In the evening we crossed over to Galatas by small boat to honour my daughter's m-in-law whose name day it is today.  Her name is Panagiota, the Greek version of Madonna.  

Poros from the water

There was an extended family gathering on Galatas waterfront.  So different from the hustle, bustle, noise and confusion of Poros.  We sat out among the flowers and shrubs at the tables of a souvlaki restaurant beside the sea on the other side of the channel.    There were few motorbikes or cars, no loud music blaring from cafeterias.

We ate kebabs, grilled sausages and pitta bread.  For those still on a fast there was kalamari and vegetables burgers to fill their pittes.  Some of the family fast strictly all through the year and because this celebration fell on a Wednesday they would not eat meat though fish was allowed.

Later we took the boat back to Poros and sat on the waterfront for an after dinner drink.

At midnight there were still groups of friends and families promenading along the quay.  By 1.30, when we finally left for home, tavernas had closed and put chairs up on tables, cafeterias had empty tables but the bars down the end of town were pulsating.

23/24th August is another celebration of the Virgin Mary.  It is the first memorial, 9 days after her soul ascended.  


  1. You certainly had a lovely time of it!!!

    Ahhhh yes, living where tourists love to come! We do too. And we have *zillions* of people here, in August. And then, after "Labor Day," they go home. :-)

    Here, the Feast Day is called The Assumption. Couldn't have the mother of the saviour, get eaten by worms. ,-) Had to have her "pulled up", body and all, to... Where? :-)

    That holy bread, which had to be all eaten, was that so-called "Communion," which she brought from church? Wow, in my old religion, you'd never be allowed to do that!

    That one, the consecration of bread/wine into body/blood... That was the biggest thing, with which I had trouble believing. -sigh-

    And people fast on Wed. there? Here, it used to be on Fridays. Interesting.

    But is this the Greek Orthodox Church? Yes, it probably is. And there are differences.

    1. People fast all during the year on Wednesdays and Fridays and a helluva lot of other days.
      It's not communion bread . That is given to each after the wine but can still be taken out of the church. These pieces are from loaves of bread brought by the faithful. They are blessed, cut up and put in baskets from which everyone helps themselves.

  2. The Feast of the Assumption is celebrated in the Catholic Church here by Mass but it is not such a big thing as Greece of course, no public holiday or anything. You had a busy time with celebrations and feasts and friends. Nice.

    1. I hadn't thought about Catholic celebrations till Cro mentioned it a few days ago in a comment. It is a most important day in any christian church of course. I think easter would be most celebrated, then 15th august and Xmas would definitely come in at 3rd place.
      Not so busy in our house thank goodness but the relatives over the water have quite a few with name days on the 15th

  3. It sounds like an idyllic lifestyle.

    1. Too hot to be idyllic! If I could withdraw to the mountains for July and August it would be getting cloe

  4. Traditionally the 15th Aug was the day of our major village fete, and traditionally it always rained (poured). 10 days later (traditionally) we would find mushrooms (Cepes) in the woods. These days tradition has gone, and we longer have our fete, or the August mushrooms.

    1. Rain at any other time in the summer is most appreciated but not when it rains on the fete! It has happened once here, a real downpour and no one was prepared but somehow the feasting still went on

  5. Every time I read your blog you are posting about the most delicious sounding food, it makes me feel quite hungry :-)

    1. And more food on the next post. It is too much....but that's greek hospitality and their way of life
      I imagine Italians are similar