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.