Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

My Village or Yours?

I’m not Orthodox Christian and normally spend Pascha outside of Greece, so I’m not accustomed to the familial wrangling involved in deciding where and with whom to spend this holiday of all holidays. My best guess is that it’s much like the politics of who to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with in America…family, food (a lot!), fighting (more than enough), fodder and hurt feelings.

Back in February when news came out that I wasn’t jet-setting, my friends’ dad called his ex-wife and announced that his sons (my friends) and I were spending Pascha in his village. Uhhhh, what? First of all, no one asked us. Second, I found it hurtful that their dad would make this announcement in front of his ex-wife, as if it were a competition he’d won by likening us to the front seat of a car and calling ‘shotgun.’

Of course we had no plans, it was February for gosh sakes. But wise people should know better than to tell me what to do without asking first because that’s just wood for a fire called “Heck, no!”

In their dad’s village, I hear it’s a depress-fest because no music, dancing and smiling are permitted since their cousin Kosta died 6 years ago in a car accident. So basically, it’s eating, sleeping, fighting, eating, drinking coffee and the dispensing of unsolicited advice. Sounds irresistible, no?

There have been calls — sometimes five a day — over the past weeks to tell us what we’re wearing to church, the candles being bought and how things are going to go.

In addition to the fact I’m not Orthodox, and I think it’s wrong for people to go only once a year for Pascha if they don’t truly believe or regularly practice, there’s a rumor that their dad wants me at church so he can show me off as his sons’ “exotic and beautiful foreign friend.” Add to this a dash of being insulted by their aunt for being a “lower person” because I’m foreign, “poor” because I own no farmland and “not of good character” because I have an American education and traveled the world alone. I kept quiet, but others apparently did not.

We’re going to their mom’s village now.

Pascha friendly advice

If you’re going to attend church for Easter service, ladies must make sure to wear a skirt to show respect to Orthodox Christian customs and men are expected to wear suits. Many people use the event to pose and posture, it sometimes isn’t about God, resurrection and bringing home the light…though it’s supposed to be. Also, be careful to not get your arm blown off by illegal fireworks.

It’s customary to wish everyone “Kali Anastasi” or Good Resurrection from Thursday to Sunday and “Christos Anesti” after that; if someone greets you with “Christos Anesti” or Christ has risen, the proper response is “Alithos Anesti” or truly He has risen.
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Related posts

Easter in Athens
Death and resurrection: Paschal journey, life journey
Countdown to the thing

5 Comments »

  EllasDevil wrote @ April 1st, 2007 at 00:08

How dare they insult you? I wouldn’t have kept quiet for a single minute! But at least it sounds like you’ll have more fun in the mom’s xoreio.

Well can you believe this time next week (it’s midnight right now)… it’ll be ANASTASI!!!!!!!

No more fasting! :-)

Well I’m not 100% sure what we’re doing for Easter but I’m kinda under the impression that we’re staying in Athens. Although I’m preparing for Easter too. I have a new suit that I will wear for Anastasi (gotta look good you know, you never know who’ll be there) and another for Megali Paraskevi.

Obviously being Orthodox (and I dunno why, I just figured you were Greek and Orthodox… I can’t say why), I’m slightly more drawn to the Easter than it sounds you are.

I think even people who aren’t Orthodox (for their sins… haha) or aren’t religious full stop couldn’t help but enjoy Easter in Greece…. especially the Anastasi celebrations!

I’m glad though it seems you’re going somewhere you will have fun this Easter!

Although I wouldn’t mind so much someone wanting to show me off because I’m beautiful. It’s better than them saying “oh no, leave her at home, she’ll show us up”. Ahahahahaha

Anyway, that’s my ramblings for now. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!! :-)

  Kat wrote @ April 1st, 2007 at 15:32

ED, I wasn’t baptized at birth because my parents wanted me to make an informed choice about my religion when I grew up instead of choosing one for me that I may not accept.

After exploring several faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam through active study and attending services for several years, I came to see that there are a lot of great things in this world to believe in. I even worked at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (which might be part of the reason you thought I could be Greek or Orthodox) for a few years with the intent of one day being baptized…but the consistent corruption, exclusion and discrimination I experienced changed my mind. But that’s another story ;)

  Annoula wrote @ December 23rd, 2008 at 06:52

Kat,

(I’ve just found you today, so all my responses are rather late!)

I live in the U.S. and go to a Greek Orthodox Church here. While there are moments when I wish I could attend a church in Greece because there would be little argument over the language of the service as there is here, whenever I attend church on a major holiday when I’m on vacation in Greece, I feel like I haven’t gone to church at all. Last summer, I vacationed during August and stayed with relatives. I had no car and would offend many if I decided to take a taxi and attend church when I wanted to. I ended up going to “church” around 1 AM of August 15th, which involved getting pushed in a sardine-can-like crowd to get into a church for about 10 minutes to light a candle and then exit and walk through crowds of “panagyriotika” and other non-religious stuff. The next morning (or actually noon), it was the same thing but at a different church. I didn’t get a chance to witness a liturgy at all. I have a feeling that my experience would be the same around Easter as well.

In saying all this, I don’t want to dissuade you from becoming Orthodox. I just want to say that yes, there is corruption, but the corruption isn’t based on the doctrines of the church. Orthodoxy is beautiful, logical, mystical, and fulfilling, and sometimes, you just have to look past the politics to experience it (just like Greece, perhaps). I would recommend going to a monastery in Greece or in the US (if you’re ever here); the experience is perhaps much more peaceful and much more focused on the religion rather than all the rest.

  Kat wrote @ January 3rd, 2009 at 10:22

Hi Annoula, thank you for finding me, if by accident, and leaving a comment today to say ‘hello’ and share your experiences.

I have been to many monasteries in Greece, and it was a beautiful, peaceful experience shared with a good friend from Spain. In fact, I’ve visited a lot of monasteries and places of worship all over the world, and each place had its voice, meaning and spirituality. I’d like to keep being a person of the world and believing that it’s not necessary to choose one religion, thus giving me the freedom to embrace and appreciate them all without bias, prejudice or judgment.

  Jennifer wrote @ January 6th, 2009 at 02:43

I completely agree with your last comment above. My family is Buddhist, and I grew up visiting Christian churches with many friends, went to a Catholic school for 7years, and have a best friend who is a Mormon and came close to being baptised. Now I live in Greece where almost everyone is Greek Orthodox including my boyfriend!

I too have visited many monasteries and places of worship, and I don’t think I could have put a better words for what you have said! I think no matter what your religion is, it’s important to be a person of the world , as you said , and do good for others. Different religions teach many same, and some unique lessons and I enjoy learning and continuously improving my spiritual journey!

by the way, I can’t wait for Greek Easter. I found that CHristmas here is no way the same as it was for me in Canada but Easter in Greece is huge!

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