Tag Archives: Easter

My Easter Soiree

20 Apr

Easter was a special time in my family when I was growing up. And by Easter, I of course mean Greek Orthodox Easter. Every year, we’d pile into the station wagon and drive down to Baltimore to spend the most important religious holiday for Greek Americans with my father’s side of the family. There would be a whole lamb out on the spit, a symbol of Jesus Christ as the sacrificial lamb, and we’d crack red Easter eggs, a symbol of the crucified Jesus breaking out of the tomb and overcoming death.

I’m all grown up now, and my family is spread out between three different countries. Holidays can be a tough time for singles — especially those in the city, who don’t have family in the area and can’t get to their family. Protestants and Greek Orthodox believers follow different liturgical calendars, and since this year our Easter celebrations didn’t align, I decided to reach out to my American friends in the city who might not have family in the area.

After inviting friends from all walks of life, none of whom were native to New York (two of whom are not even native to this country!), I started to plan the menu only to begin panicking about what to serve for an American Easter. I certainly wasn’t going to roast a lamb out on a souvla on the city sidewalk! In the end, I made egg salad, which one friend said was the best she’d ever had! Secret ingredient: LOTS of mayonnaise! I also made cold carrot ginger soup with goat cheese and carrot curls. My friends said I saved the best for last: cheesy hash browns!

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This Year, Our Calendars Unite!

25 Feb

“Are you in a cult?” my friend once asked me.

My friend and I led a Protestant ministry for young adults, and I had mentioned that I actually celebrate Easter on a different day than most Protestants. Growing up, I had always celebrated Easter at the Greek Orthodox Church. Granted it was the only time of year my family went to the Greek Church (we went to a Protestant church the rest of the year), but we were pretty adamant about that being Easter.

No, I’m not in a cult, I sighed, aggravated that she would think that. In fact, there’s much more tradition and practical reason for celebrating Easter when I do.

The Greek Orthodox Church follows the old calendar system, the Julian calendar. Protestant and Catholics later decided to follow the new Gregorian calendar. What this means, though, is that sometimes Protestants and Catholics celebrate Easter before Jewish observers celebrate Passover. And if you know anything about these religions at all, you know that that doesn’t actually make a lot of sense since Jesus’ Last Supper is suggested to be a Passover meal.

This year, however, our calendars happen to coincide!

…I guess that means no discounted Easter candy for me this year.

Resources:

  • For a very thorough explanation on the calendar differences by an esteemed authority, I recommend this article by Dr. Lewis J. Patsavos.
  • For a more conversational approach yet also thorough, I recommend “A Tale of Two Easters” by Borgna Brunner.

The Smell of Meat Lofting in the Air

20 Feb

 

Mmm… smell that smoky aroma? It can only mean one thing! Today is that special Greek holiday known as Tsiknopempti. Literally, it’s Charred Meat Thursday.

Yes, that’s right. We have a whole holiday devoted eating meat. Tsiknopempti is the preamble to Great Lent. Basically, you eat a whole lot of meat now because you’re going to be fasting for a long time. Longer, in fact, than the 40 days of Great Lent, since the meat fast starts ten days before that.

Do you fast?

Previous posts on Tsiknopempti:

Happy Tsiknopempti!

Hello, Carnival; Good-bye, Meat

 

Friday Fun Fact: You Will See Lots of Candles This Weekend

3 May

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You might think Easter already happened back in March, but if you’re Greek you know it’s this weekend. And with Greek Orthodox Easter comes the sight of men who don’t grow mustaches ironically and women who still believe in using lots of Aquanet carrying candles with little red wax-catching cups.

If you missed it last year, here’s my story about this tradition and wondering how to get a lit candle home if I can’t take an open flame on the subway.

Clip: Light of the World

13 Apr

I expanded a post that started out here on this blog, and it’s up on Burnside now!  It’s about the first Greek Easter I spent in New York….

 

I think there’s probably a law against carrying an open flame in the subway.  I’m not sure.  But it’s a pretty safe bet.  This turns Easter in New York City into a midnight marathon.

Clip: Separation Sunday

7 Apr

“Father, can I tell your congregation how a resurrection really feels?”

Sin and salvation.

Death and resurrection.

Hoodrats and comeback kids.

Parties and confession booths.

The Hold Steady’s Separation Sunday: indie rock’s Easter music.

Clip: Paintings of the Crucifixion

6 Apr

 

In light of Good Friday, I’m reposting “Paintings of the Crucifixion,” originally published on Burnside last year.

 

A couple years ago there was an exhibit called Spanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth, and History at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.  The exhibit paired old masters with modern painters, according to theme: knights, ghosts, ladies, bodegones, landscapes of fire, and so forth.  It was an impressive collection of artwork that spoke to how Truth transcends time.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed the museum in such a way that museum-goers wind their way up through exhibits as opposed to being sectioned off, floor by floor, and consequently there are heightened feelings of momentum and progress as one climbs closer to the top of the museum.  At the pinnacle of the museum during the Spanish Painting exhibit there was a section devoted entirely to paintings of the Crucifixion.
It is probably the most intense and haunting collection of artwork I have ever witnessed.  I have seen many paintings of the Crucifixion over the years, but standing in an entire room of them is overwhelming.  I felt uncomfortable.  I felt sick.  I left trying to push it out of my mind.
You can read the rest and see visuals here.

Happy Tsiknopempti!

16 Feb

Happy Tsiknopempti!  You’ve heard of Fat Tuesday, the French holiday associated with Mardi Gras.  Well, today is Fat Thursday, ten days before the beginning of Great Lent.

Tsiknopempti means Barbecue Thursday, Charred Meat Thursday, or Burnt Thursday.  It’s the evening Greek Orthodox believers consume massive amounts of meat because they start fasting from meat even a week before Great Lent, the forty days leading up to Pascha (Easter), begins.

I’ve been fasting from meat for six years.  I guess that means BBQ tofu and grilled veggies for me.

It’s my sister’s favorite holiday.  She’s such a carnivore!  I’d never even heard of the holiday til my family moved to Greece.  Then my sister told me all about a day where the sweet smell of charred meat wafts through the dusty roads of ancient villages.

What’s your favorite food to barbecue?

Here are a few recipe ideas:::

Skewered Grilled Fruit with Minted Yogurt Honey Sauce

Grilled Fruit Skewers with Spicy Maple Cumin Glaze

Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers with Texas Barbecue Sauce

Lamb Chops with Lemon

 

You might also like these articles:::

Hello, Carnival; Good-bye Meat

Tasty Tuesday: Dinner at Souvlaki GR

Clip: Paintings of the Crucifixion

Clip: Paintings of the Crucifixion (BWC)

29 Apr

El Greco. The Crucifixion. 1596-1600.

Hope you had a lovely Easter!  In case you missed my post last Friday on BWC on “probably the most intense and haunting collection of artwork I have ever witnessed,” you can check it out here.

Light of the World

18 Apr

I think there’s probably a law against carrying an open flame in the subway.  I’m not sure.  But it’s a pretty safe bet.  This threw my Easter celebrations into flux last year.

Usually I spend Easter with my family in Baltimore.  Last year, though, Greek Orthodox Easter fell on the same Sunday as “American” (i.e., Protestant and Catholic) Easter, so I decided to stay in New York rather than deal with holiday traffic.

At the Cathedral, we lit candles to signify that now that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God in heaven, we, the believers, are to be to the light to the world.  We carry our lit candles out of the church with us at the midnight Easter service, and shine them for all the world to see on our way home.  Up until last year, that had always meant carrying our lit candles into my uncle’s van.

Last year, though, I took the subway to the Easter service.  When I left the Cathedral, lit candle in hand, I realized I was more than twenty blocks from my apartment.  How could I get home with my candle still lit?

Surely, I’d get stopped if I tried to go in the subway.

What cabbie wouldn’t object?

I can never figure out the bus system, and it certainly wouldn’t be the solution anyway.

So, I hoofed it.  I got a lot of stares from passersby on my walk home.  At first, the masses coming from the Cathedral looked like we’d attended a vigil.  Or, maybe we were part of a weird cult.  As the crowd dispersed—east, west, uptown, downtown—we began to look like solitary candle holders.  Who were we?  Why were we carrying candles across city sidewalks in the middle of the night?

I’m glad you asked.