This is going to be one looooong post! Before I get into the Easter happenings, I’ve gotta mention what’s all over the news right now. I’m not sure if it was shown on North American news or not but a cruise ship sank at Santorini. It hit a rock in the water on Thursday and luckily most of the passengers got off (I think all but 2). Then it fully sank during the night. Anyways, when the ship started sinking, the boat Tony is on was sent over there (1 of 2 Special Forces boats that were sent). So they sped over there but it took 2.5 hours so by the time they got there, the passengers had been taken off the ship already. It was kinda exciting though because I was watching the news with Linda and we were trying to see his boat arrive. He had no connection on his cell, so he couldn’t tell us where he was. Anyways, they ended up going back to Leros when they found out there wasn’t much they could do.
Ok, now Easter. It was full of church, ceremonies, symbolism, and good food. I took a few movies too that I'll try to post this week. I’ll break the post down by the days:
Thurs: This is when you are supposed to dye eggs red before the sun goes down. This represents Jesus dying on the cross. I did that upstairs with Markos and Linda (I was pretty much upstairs with them most of the weekend). After you dye them (they are hard boiled) you have to shine them up with a polish. We did about 35 eggs!
Fri: Friday consisted of 2 outings to the church. For the first one, we went in the early afternoon and the church was packed! We stood upstairs in the balconies where we ran into a bunch of Tony’s relatives. It was a nice service (which had started very early in the morning) and at the end of it they took this wooden Jesus off a cross and wrapped him in a white cloth and put him in what’s called a epitaph (kinda like a fancy coffin with no walls and decorated with flowers). Then they paraded it around the church and set it in the middle on a little stage.
The second celebration is at midnight and takes place at 3 churches and throughout the city. We headed down around 11ish and got a good spot near the windmill at the port. The 3 churches each have services and at the same time they take their epitaph, with Jesus in it, out of the church and walk with it to the port where the 3 convoys meet. After they get organized, they all head together on a walk around the town.
Sat: Saturday was very busy! During the day Linda and I cleaned and cleaned to get ready for Sunday when everyone comes over for the roast. While we were cleaning, Markos got the lamb ready for the roast and other interesting food items ready. Tony’s cousin Vassilis and uncle Yiorgios came to help Markos. I have to explain what they were doing because it’s interesting and I have pics that might make you queasy.
They got the lamb ready to roast by sticking the bar through it and stuffing its stomach with onion, peppers, and tomato, then they sewed it up with wire. Along with the lamb, there is also something else that gets roasted too called kokoretsi; it’s a very large skewer of assorted meats (livers, hearts, and not sure what else) and it gets wrapped in intestine! The skewer gets turned around by a motor and you have to guide the intestines along the meat as it gets wrapped around. I tried it for a bit: slippery!
Before midnight, we headed back down to the church with candles and one dyed egg each. There were too many people to fit in the church so a lot of people stood outside. At around midnight, everyone lit their candles using fire from the church that got passed from candle to candle. This fire was originally from Jerusalem and was flown to Athens and then all around Greece! Once everyone’s candles were lit, it was time to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. It’s kinda like New Years; everyone does the double cheek kiss and you crack your egg with someone else’s. There are also a ton of very loud fire crackers. I brought my candle home still burning and used it to burn a cross above my door (Linda says that's another thing some people do to protect their homes).
Once that was finished, we headed home to eat a special soup called mairitsa, which is only eaten once a year. It's made with liver, heart, dill, and lettuce. It was very good!! Makos showed me how to make it earlier that day. Mmmmmmm!
Sun: This was a fun day! It pretty much consisted of food, drink, dancing, sun, loud music, firecrackers, and gunfire. It was such a nice day, about 20 degrees. I came upstairs about 11 and by that time the lamb had been roasting for 3 hours already. People started to show up soon after and some were already there. It was mainly Tony’s relatives and some friends came later in the day.
Markos set up speakers outside and they put on loud Greek music. We picked at the lamb when it was finished and the guys let off firecrackers. Markos brought his gun out too and was shooting it off and he let me try; it jerked me back when I shot it! This is a very loud day as you can tell; I’m surprised I can hear today!
At lunch time we had a meal at a table outside. The kokoretsi was sooooo good by the way; I think it was my favorite. But it was all so good because it had been roasting for so long. The surface was crispy and the inside was tender. In the evening, the dancing started. It was so much fun and it helped to work off the pigging out we all did! I got my practice in for next weekend when the baptism happens.
We were so full and tired by the end of the day! At about 11 most people left and we cleaned up a bit. And that’s the end of Easter. I’m glad I got to be here for Easter, it was an experience!