We’re in the middle of Megali Evdomada, Holy Week which is the biggest Greek festival after 15th August when they celebrate Mary’s ascension to heaven. Apart from the lack of ice, snow and sleet (although not rain) it feels a bit like the days leading up to Xmas in the UK. The shops are busier, people seem happier and most people add a ‘kalo pascha’ when they see you.
Yesterday evening I met one of my neighbours in our local wine store and normally she’ll be reasonably pleasant in that she nods and says hello but yesterday evening she was positively gushing and I’m not sure that I rose to her occasion. I’ve learnt enough to know that it’s best to nod in agreement when asked by a Greek if I’m a member of the Anglican church because to suggest that you might not be a keen church attender is precisely the same as saying that you drink the blood of dead animals and draw pentagrams on your balcony. When I confessed to my neighbour that we weren’t actually going home to our family in the UK for Easter I could see that any good will I’d gained from agreeing to the Anglican bit was fast being cancelled out by my total disregard for the family. ‘A widowed mother, for goodness sake.’ News may go around the neighbourhood that I will be spending the Easter festival disemboweling kittens and not visiting the family’. If you could rend your garments at this point it may add to the flavour of the moment.
But my neighbour is a kind woman and she asked me if, as an Anglican, I would feast with the Catholics for Easter. I made a vague movement with my head that could be taken positively and I’d probably have got away with it if I hadn’t added that we were planning to go to a lovely Greek island for the Easter break. ‘But there are no Catholics there’, she assured me and then involved a couple of the other ladies in the shop about where I was likely to find any Catholics for feasting with. Judging by my neighbour’s tenacity for discussing religious life I can tell you that if the Greek Orthodox had run the Inquisition then it would have been even scarier.
Anyway, Kalo Pascha and I hope the easter bunny brings you lots of chocolate. I’ll slaughter a goat on my balcony to bring you luck.