Friday, March 9, 2018

International Women's Day, then contest.

It's not like Greece is way behind on the issue of equal rights. There is a whole government program in place for that. The "dowry" system was abolished by the Socialist government in 1982, when another law also allowed women to keep their maiden names. And last October I viewed an extensive ‎exhibit dedicated to feminist activity 1974-1990 at the Parliament Foundation building in Athens where books, posters, demo memorabilia, etc. looked  amazingly familiar...
So I was rather shocked to‎ hear that a Girls School grad's husband would not allow her to have lunch with us in Thessaloniki on the occasion of International Women's Day (March 8th). She has attended other get-togethers, no problem. And the day is actually acknowledged in Greece where women do get together to party even in villages. So what was up with that?

Well! Seems like some men get crankily insecure around here at the thought of a day dedicated to the advancement of women's rights, undermining the notion that women may be at least somewhat liberated. It looks like a pretty modern society, however, it is not...on several levels. Sure, you can sometimes fold old-fashioned habits into the cultural landscape and say no problem.‎ Other times, when you are confronted with clear-cut male entitlement issues, it is not so easy. Women may have some legal entitlements complete with outspoken political views (finally!), and also look modern in dress or hanging out/going on trips with their friends. But when push comes to shove you better provide and literally put food on the table every single day, run around 24/7 caring for grandchildren (my pet peeve!), and generally play the part of Greek wife/mother with all of its tasks/constraints. Yes, looks can indeed be rather deceiving...
And now, here comes Easter. While we may be familiar with certain rituals and preparations -- like Friday night services, fried cod on March 25th, dying eggs red on Good Thursday, and procuring/cleaning entrails for maghiritsa soup -- there is one set of chores not so well-know in the States: cleaning the whole house from stem to stern (think mandatory Spring Cleaning on steroids), typically involving taking down/washing/ironing all the curtains and washing all the rugs -- thank God for washing machines! Not to mention, mostly in the villages, the whitewashing of inner walls and outside walkways, etc. All of this is done by the women except for some whitewashing and help with heavy objects, transport needs and the like. Oh, and don't you dare ask your son to help with these chores as he will probably be too busy hanging out with his friends when not working. Thus, all Greeks are simply not created equal.

The Easter season in Greece, however, is something to behold -- especially Holy Week. Two years ago, I spent Easter in my Papou's village of Kyparissi, Lakonias, and joined the many visiting Greeks who ate fabulous maghiritsa at the Trocadero restaurant after church -- and by reservation, no less. Last year, I went to Corfu, with dueling epitafia on Friday and red crockery of all sizes thrown from balconies on Saturday. This year I will spend Easter in Naousa for the first time.
Kalo Pascha, Happy Easter!
NOTE: Must mention that the financial crisis in Greece might have abated on paper and in some news stories -- but still NO trickle down effect to the everyday, austerity-bitten consumer living on pensions cut many times with increased fees/taxes and 22% unemployment. Greece has the lowest consumer sentiment index in the European Union, no surprise there. Let's see how many people actually roast whole lambs on Easter Sunday...

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