Easter is approaching this week in the UK and it will be Good Friday in a couple of days.
In the UK Easter is represented by the Easter Egg and hot cross bun; these days the latter is not especially related to Easter as we can now get them all year round??? I don’t know why retailers do this as it is another example of making everything the same thus taking the delight and anticipation away. What’s so special when you can get it anytime? A bit like being able to buy Christmas trees and Christmas puddings all year round. Oh! wait a minute, I bet we can if we look hard enough? Gripes aside, (I love a good gripe), Easter is a special time for me because it heralds new life. Everything in nature is taking a deep breath and sighing out it’s many folded layers of growth and having a good stretch. We can all feel the sun on our backs and we feel, literally, a spring in our step. More daylight streams through our windows and the light changes as the sun rises higher in the sky and sets later allowing us leisure to walk out in early evening light. The birds are noisy and active and the little wren in my garden is singing its head off.
It is obviously completely back to front in the Southern Hemisphere, how strange that would be? In Cyprus it is a magical time with all those seemingly barren rocks and dusty fields shining with the little gems of flowers and vast expanses of bright colour suddenly appearing after the rains, giving the whole place a completely different look; like a drab maiden suddenly putting on her glad rags for the party.
I remember many, many years ago when I was staying in my Dad’s village, Yerolakkos at Easter time, the whole village took part in the religious ceremony of it. It is a very special time in the Orthodox calendar and has far more importance than Christmas. I have only vague memories of the order of the religious celebration but what I remember most clearly is attending the service in the church on the eve of Easter Sunday with my Grandmother .We sat upstairs and the men were downstairs doing all the singing. All the icons as well as the iconostasis, were covered with a black cloth and the whole event has a great air of drama. The service was quite long and as we approached midnight the lights were turned off and the whole congregation lit a candle which set the church aglow. I had a memory of walking around the outside of the church three times holding the candle but I could be wrong. When we re-entered the cloth had been taken down. We then all turned to each other and proclaimed “Xristos Anesti” meaning Christ is Risen and this is answered with “Alithos Anesti” truly he has risen. We then went through the village greeting anyone we met with this phrase and home to break fast.
I have found this interesting blog written about Easter in Greece where he describes the whole of the religious observance of Easter week.
The lunch on Easter Sunday is truly a banquet to celebrate the ending of the 40 day fast and traditionally a delicious roast of lamb is eaten, I am salivating just thinking of the flavour of it. The other delicacy eaten at Easter are flaounes; delicious little open pies filled with a special cheese, eggs and mint. My Aunt Eugenia made a huge quantity of these, using goodness knows how many dozens off eggs that were stirred in a vast dish together with the other ingredients. They all disappeared into our greedy mouths at a rapid rate though.