There so many memories around Easter...Lent was important in our Stockton family. But it was not difficult to appreciate Lenten dishes like lentil soup, spinach w/rice, and stuffed peppers (no meat). As a child I really appreciated the days when we could not drink milk and had to be satisfied with Seven Up -- a sacrifice worth noting! But it was difficult to both go to church every night during Holy Week and keep up with homework during the years (3 out of 4) that we did not celebrate Easter at the same time as the rest of Christianity. It was even more difficult explaining why.
St. Basil's Greek Orthodox Church memories abound, beginning with the original church on Stanislaus Street. Spilling into the street -- before the days of the newer church building w/the parking lot -- on Good Friday night with the "epitafio" was totally creepy and exciting. Then on Saturday night, more candle wax dripping onto our hands with oddly comforting familiarity as we chanted "Christos anesti ek nekron." (Now we have those newfangled plastic wax-catching things. Can't we just bring back the Dixie cups?)
The many Easters I spent in Greece provide more amazing memories. In Thessaloniki, the procession on Good Friday from Aghios Dimitrios Church -- containing the relics of the city's patron saint -- included a band playing dirge-like music all along the way. And how about the Easter Sunday spent in Alexandria, Imathias, with my brother George at the home of student -- where the father (a butcher) began roasting his lamb at daybreak and we helped by drinking tsipouro. Does it get any better?
|Holy Trinity, Peterborough ON|
On Sunday, St. Basil's congregants will celebrate Easter with an "agapi" service and picnic on the church grounds. Sounds nice. But will it be like the gatherings we used to have at the exotic (or so I thought) Micke Grove Park in Lodi with an outdoor church service and picnic that I could hardly wait for? There were always other people in the park that day, and I was always so proud of us -- a vibrant, diverse Greek community with a common cultural heritage and purpose celebrating Easter to the fullest. Those were the good ol' days!
Kali Anastasi kai Kalo Pascha!