Easter Sunday ended up being a gorgeous day. With the early morning drops of rain and mist, most of my family was worried how were going to squeeze 50+ people into cousin Viv’s house. But the skies parted, the celebrations were underway and it was as if God simply smiled down from heaven as we celebrated the resurrected Jesus.
I just love this holiday! No stress over gifts, too many parties to go to, too many places to be. It’s just family, over a meal, in celebration of our faith (and our culture). With family in Detroit, we decided to depart on Saturday afternoon to do Anastasi (the resurrection) at St. John’s which is one of the churches I grew up in. I love the service and everything it means to my nostalgic heart.
Throughout Holy Week, the church helps you walk through Christ’s journey to the cross. From festivities, fasting, special services and symbolic moments of decorating the tomb of Christ and removing the icons – it means so much.
The Easter service beings – it’s late, and while exhausted, you’re exhilarated. The lights are off – and all you see is the light of the resurrection with the priest signing with all his might.
Thefte lavate fos (come receive the light).
It gives me chills every time. The anticipation, the symbolism. After, I laugh, as my children who are now young adults can’t wait to go to the nearest burger join. After weeks of fasting from meat, you’d think they have been deprived for years!
After church, we move on to the cracking of the red eggs. The eggs represent the blood of Christ and the cracking is the reminder of the tomb cracking open.
We start the with the pointed ends, saying Xristos Anesti (Christ is Risen) and the other person with their pointed end responds Alithos Anesit (Truly He has risen). Whoever has the winning (uncracked) egg continues to the next person.
Sunday family dinner comes not too long after – and is replete with every last favorite dish from YiaYia, Thea and Mama alike. Of course, there is lamb – and tons of it. We also celebrate with koukouresti (lamb intestines and innards) which is surprisingly good! My Uncle Ted is an expert! We’ve got Pastichio (lasagna), lemon potatoes, Greek peas, souvlaki (marinated meat on a stick) and so on.
And let’s not forget dessert!! Oh, the sugar. And the Easter Bunny with his egg hunt – the kids are in heaven, the parents happy to see traditions continue. My heart is full, my cup is overflowing.
I love being Greek – I love being Orthodox – I love our traditions. My hope is that my kids continue this – of which I have no doubt – where ever their life may lead them.