A 3 Day Family Reunion and Easter Celebrations
Trip Start Apr 14, 2012
38Trip End Jun 10, 2012
I am back by now, and I will try to be as brief as possible writing about the first 3 days dedicated to my family and relatives celebrating Easter together.
It is Holy Saturday, reached home late in the afternoon and the first time that I am not in the spirit of Easter at all. I believe the reasons vary - it was Yianni's knee operation, traveling and much writing before the trip and I have not attended a Church service even for once. Everyone seems to be busy with the last touches for a perfect celebration and the late Midnight Dinner.
We go to Church late that night at 23.15 but remained in the yard with many other people. The Church is already full inside. Each one is holding a candle and it is amazing how beautiful some of these are
It is a rainy night but at least I am protected from the rain in the spot I am standing while my relatives stand very close to me with their umbrellas open and they don’t seem to mind the rain at all. In Greece we usually remain in Church till the end of the service and we have the Holy Communion before we return home. Of course the majority of people hurry back home as if supper cannot wait!! I have noticed though that lately more and more people remain in Church till the end of the service at 02.00. With the Holy Communion the service is over and each person who is present receives a red egg from the priest. At home the table is beautifully set and decorated ready for the Easter dinner.
Ok, back to this rainy evening, we are standing outside the yard till the first part of the service finishes. The light from Jerusalem has already traveled to all Orthodox Churches and by 12 midnight sharp the priest comes to the entrance of the sanctuary holding 3 lit candles, -the lights in the whole building are turned off by now and the only light comes from the candles the priest is holding
The priest tries to hold them as high as possible for a few seconds but very soon the light is spread through the whole church and then it comes outside and there is a wish in the air by everybody. We hug and kiss friends and relatives who are present and we say "Christos Anesti" meaning Jesus has resurrected. The other person replies “Alithos Anesti” that means –Truly He has.
It is a moment of happiness the church bells ring happily and there is much fire cracking with much noise throughout the evening. There is smell of gunpowder in the yard and there are times when somebody’s hair is on fire as well. You see, not many people know how to handle the candles especially the kids who insist that they hold a candle as well. With all this excitement and noise there is no guarantee that you won’t get burnt so you have to be alert. After 40 days of fast everyone is anxious to get home and have the traditional soup of the day called “Magiritsa” which is so tasty and delicious.
After hugging and kissing the service inside continues but the majority of people leave and this time I am leaving too since I am a guest and all the family is to gather at my cousin’s house for the traditional supper
We cherish this tradition which was passed on to us from our Grandparents and we all gather around the table and sing a traditional and very touchy song. I am not so sure if this exists in Cypriot families but you see our Grandmother was Greek and Grandfather Cypriot but they had been living in Cairo for years. My Dad came to Cyprus at the age of 22 so this tradition we are celebrating must have been taken from those years and I guess it is mostly a Greek custom and not a Cypriot one!
The first words of the song are…Pascha iero, Pacha Panton, Panton ton Christianon etc
Angela but also Costa as always –very good cooks, amazed us with their cooking. “Magiritsa” the Easter soup was the highlight of the evening along with several other delicacies of the day like “flaounes” and “tsourekia”. Flaounes are something like cheese pies and they are originally Cypriot. There was also much wine.
The next day, Sunday of Easter these same people and many more coming from Limassol and Nicosia all relatives were invited to Dimitra and George’s house (cousins) It was a feast indeed and what matters is that the family is together and very united as always. What is more wonderful than a loving family gathering?
When lunch is over my sister drives Mum and myself to Lefkara to our little cottage. As an Auditor for hotels I had to see a hotel so I was driven to the Lefkara Hotel and Restaurant where I spent 2 nights there instead of staying at the cottage with my family. In the next entry I am going to refer to Lefkara comprehensively.
The Monday after Easter is still a holiday for all Orthodox and there is another gathering taking place at a nearby village this time
My cousins George and Thekla are the hosts this time who have recently moved to their new house. It is huge and amazingly beautiful, so elegant and stylish and it is again another wonderful lunch and get- together, more relatives coming in as well as some friends of the couple.
Lamp meat “souvla” is on the spit again, the day amazing and very promising, the buffet variable and everyone enjoys each others company until late in the afternoon. What you can hear is laughter, giggles and much excitement…unforgettable moments that I will cherish the memory of. Half of the guests are sitting inside and the rest out in the yard. We must have been more than 45 people. Who knows when I will be celebrating Easter in Cyprus again with these same people!