Friday, April 29, 2011

Join Me on my Easter Trip to Crete!

We departed from our house Thursday afternoon, Vasili going to wait in line to be first on the ship; (it's a Greek thing!), and me going off to look for a good book to read on the trip down.
The ship, "Elyros", Anek Lines, leaves from the Port of Piraeus at 9P.M. and arrived at Chania, Crete at Souda Bay at 5A.M. the next morning.

Here is a shot of me on the small boat taking us from Port of Salamina to Port of Perema, where we will take a taxi to Piraeus.

Shots at the Port of Piraeus...everyone who is able to, will be leaving from the city to go to their home village or island for the Easter Holiday. It is MASS confusion at the Port!

Crowds waiting for their ship.

Ferry Boat to Crete; "KPHTI" (Kriti)

Here is our ship, the Elyros;

After an uncomfortable and exhausting overnight trip, we arrived in Chania, at the port of Souda at 5 A.M. on Friday, (Megali Paraskevi), and sat and had some coffee to kill time and try to wake up before we made our way via Taxi to the top of the mountain and the small traditional village of Samonas.

Here are the first view of the "Lefka Ori", or, "White Mountains".

Megali Paraskevi is the night of the procession of the Epitaphio, which is the symbolic casket of Christ. In small villages, such as Samonas, the local women and children all join together with armfuls of flowers and rosemary and jasmine to decorate the Epitaphio, then, in the evening, after being blessed by the priest, it is carried throughout the village, stopping at each crossroad to recite the liturgy.
I was lucky enough to be included in not only the procession, but in the decorating of the Epitaphio. Come back tomorrow and I will show you those photos. Bye for now!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Electra!" in Copper


In Greek mythology, Electra (Greek: Ἠλέκτρα, Ēlektra) was an Argive princess and daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra. She and her brother Orestes plotted revenge against their mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon. Electra is the main character in the Greek tragedies Electra by Sophocles and Electra by Euripides and has inspired various other works.

This is Electra, Daughter of Agamemnon and a Princess of Argive.

This is the grave mask of Agamemnon, the King of Argive. You can view it in the Archaeological Museum of Athens.

The "Electra" Necklace

I created this necklace, utilizing an ancient Greek motif, in graduated links, and paired the cool, hard, silver with the warm, softness of a Dove Grey Greek Suede cord. I imagined that the Princess Electra herself may have worn such a necklace. You can find it in my Etsy Shop.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kalo Taxidi!

Which means; "Good Travel!" and is very appropriate, because I am writing this just 3 hours before we catch a taxi to our port, then the Karavaki, (small boat), to Piraeus, where we will board the huge Anek Ferry will take us on an overnight trip to Kriti! (Crete!)

Port at Hania

The ship doesn't leave till 9pm, but if you knew Vasili, you would know this is "de regular" for him. This time we will be going without Haroula (our car) so things will be much less chaotic, although I have heard that as early as last week, there was not one ticket by ship or plane available to it will probably be pandemonium inside the ship. Wish I had an IPOD! Maybe I will just take earplugs.

Anek Ferry Boat to Crete

Here are some sights and sounds from Crete that I hope will interest and delight you! I will be gone till next Wed, when I will be back, (hopefully) with loads of great photos from a Springtime Crete! Happy Easter to you All!

Three Muses at Knossos Knossos Palace



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

""Xronia Polla! Kalo Pascha! Christos Anesti"!

That is the greeting which Greeks give to one another at Easter, it means; "Many Years! Good Easter! Christ has Arisen!"
The Easter Service begins on Saturday night at 11:00.

Here on Salamina, we walk to the small area church with our Labadas (Easter Candles). Our Labadas are simple, plain white thin tapers, but they can get very elaborate, decorated with flowers and even with small toys attached! (they can get VERY pricey, too!)
Our area church is quite small, as most village churches are, and most of the people wait outside, listening to the liturgy on a loud speaker, but mostly chatting and visiting with friends and neighbors they may not have seen since last Easter. At the stroke of midnight, the Pappas joyfully announces; "Christos Anesti!" ("Christ Has Arisen!"). He then begins to light the candles of those close to him, his flame having originated from the Mother Church in Sofia, Turkey, and in turn people light the candles of those close to them and so on thru the crowd. Custom dictates that you cheek kiss and proclaim "Christos Anesti" and you are answered; "Alithos Anesti" ("Truly he has Arisen!").

It is beautiful and very moving to be a participant in this lovely custom. Families then carry the flame back to their home, where the head of the house makes a sign of the cross on the door lintels of the home.

A funny post script to this custom; Vasili and I painted our house a few years back, and the long row of black smoke crosses were erased by the paint. In the coming year, a series of unfortunate things occurred...and on the next Easter, I barely held back my giggles as I watched Vasili put not one, but 3 crosses above each door. Guess he was taking no chances

"Tsourekei" and Red Eggs for Easter

"Tsoureki" is the traditional Easter Bread in Greece and many of the other Balkan countries as well. If you have never had it, you are missing a real treat. It is a very light bread with a thin crust and has a slightly sweet, and sometimes slightly almond taste. I myself have never attempted to make it, as it seems pretty labor intensive, and my talents lie much more with cooking then baking. (I think it is because I don't like to take directions!)
Tsoureki (tsoo-REH-kee)is the traditional bread of Greek Easter. Tsoureki is a rich yeast bread flavored with orange and a delightful spice called Mahlab (also called Mahlepi) that is ground from the pits of wild cherries. You can find Mahlab online or at ethnic grocery stores specializing in Greek or Middle Eastern products.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Culture and Custom; "Megalo Paraskevi"

Hello Again, and Welcome. This is the second of my postings for Greek Holy Week. This time I am going to share some wonderful videos of music and ceremony from past "Megalo Paraskevi" events. "Megalo Paraskevi" is "Great (or Good) Friday", and it is a night of lamentation for the death of Jesus. Each church will decorate their "Epitafio", the symbolic coffin of Christ. The Epitafio is carried on the shoulders of men in a procession thru the villages, sometimes accompanied by a band or simply drums and the faithful congregation. My first year here in Greece, I joined in one of these processions, but walking on our uneven, unlit dirt roads, along the side of the mountain here on the island proved not to be one of the safest things for me to do, so I have been passing since then on that particular custom.
This Megalo Paraskevi, however, we will be in Crete, in the village of Samonas, high atop a rugged mountain and I wouldn't miss the opportunity to join in that procession for anything!
So, sit back and enjoy the music, the ceremonies and the culture. Let me know if you enjoyed this posting by your comments at the end.
Megalo Paraskevi in Jeruselum, the liturgy in front of the tomb of the Holy Sepulcher.

This shows the procession in Naphpaktos, Greece
Here are wonderful images and music from a Moscow Orthodox Church on Megalo Paraskevi
Another Moscow for someone very famous, and take not that he does NOT return the kiss of the Pappas.
Here is a beautiful video of Great Friday in Romania.

Now I will bid you a "Good Night" and leave you with the wonderful rendition of a beloved traditional Greek song of Lamentation, which is sung all over Greece on Megalo Paraskevi. I suggest you to put this on full screen to enjoy the wonderful images as well as the inspiring music. Good Night.

"Pascha" (Easter) in Greece!

              Today is "Megali Deftera", or, "Great Monday", the beginning of the Greek Holy Week.  I will be sharing a bit of Greek Easter Holiday customs and culture with you this week.  
 Vasili and I will be leaving for Crete, which is his place of origin, so my postings will leave off on Thrusday evening, but when I return, I hope to have a slew of wonderful photos to share with you.  I have never been to Crete in the Springtime, and likewise, never for Easter, but I have always wanted to, and at last I will be able to fulfill that wish.  We will be staying in a very small traditional village named; "Samonas" high atop a mountain in the Xania area on the north west shore of Crete.  It should be a great experience.

  Here are some images of "Megali Evdomada"

A gift shop selling "Labadas".  Greek Easter Candles

In Greece, the Easter eggs are dyed a deep red, to symbolize the blood of Christ.  They are then polished to a high shine using Olive Oil and hold a special place on Easter day, when they are used in competion to see who can survive in an egg cracking attack, where each holds his egg in his own special grip,  and "taps" it against his challenger, the winner being the one whose egg does not crack. 
The "Egg Challenge"

My first Easter in Greece, Vasili's granddaughter was winning every egg challenge...only to learn that she had replaced her egg with a red wooden one!

Greek Easter Bread,  Tsoureki

Here is a man taking home his Easter Lamb.

"Easter is the biggest celebration of the Orthodox Christians and the one richest in folklore. The word "Pascha", Easter in Greek, stems from the Jewish "Pasah" which means "Passover". Jewish people celebrated "Pasah" to commemorate their liberation from the Egyptians and the passage of the Red sea, while Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ the Saviour and the passage from death to life. The corresponding Greek word for "Pascha" is "Lambri" (Brightness) because the day of the resurrection of Christ is a day full of joy and exhilaration. Easter is a moveable holiday. Its celebration falls on the first Sunday after the full moon of the spring equinox. Easter is by far the holiest of Greek holidays, but it is also the most joyous, a celebration of spring, of rebirth in its literal as well as figurative sense. Greeks leave the cities in droves to spend Easter in the countryside, usually in their own ancestral villages."

Today, Greek women all over the county will begin their shopping for the biggest and most important Greek holiday.