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Newsletter Archive > April 2009

16582: Newsletter Archive

submitted by James Victor Prineas on 23.04.2009

April 2009

Dear Friends of Kythera,

here are two Easter pieces by our most diligent writers. Our Anna responded to my call for a piece within a couple of hours! That's what Easter (and the warming weather) can do for one's energy levels.

Wishing you all a wonderful Greek Easter from a sunny Denmark,

James Prineas

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Anna's Pre-Easter Report
Here on the sunny, flora-covered isle of Kythera, everyone is gearing up for the egg-cracking season otherwise known as "Greek Orthodox Easter". Churches have been white-washed, religious flags are sailing and tender milking lambs slaughtered in time for roasting on Easter Sunday. Greece has buried its scandal-bearing winter and if you ask anyone, all is good!!!!!

And good it is indeed. Kythera underwent a transformation this winter. You could do yoga 4 times a week with the highly motivating and learned Nataly Wierthaim. The new blood of the decade-old Film Society re-introduced a thriving, controversial cinematic programme to the island, and the Council begrudgingly began weekly art and drama classes, as the local children do not do ANY creative study at all. Its not that they do not like Picasso, its that they never knew he even existed.......bizarre eh!

The Megali Evthomada (the Big Week) leading up to Anastasi (Ressurrection) on Saturday night is a sombre affair. Fireworks are let off on the mark of midnight on Saturday, which is then followed by a pig-out family meal, that starts of well but almost always ends in tears at about 2am.

Easter Sunday will see everyone turning the lamb on a spit, in backyards and beaches dancing the afternoon away the food spiritual/marathon ends.

by Anna Cominos (acominos@hotmail.com)

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THE RED EGGS OF EASTER. HRISTOS ANESTI, ALITHOS ANESTI.
by Maria from Lourandianika

Easter was and is such an important part of my life. As a child, I would watch as my mother would prepare for this Holy day, boiling red eggs, and baking the Easter breads with the red eggs baked into them.

On the Sunday, as we prepared to attend Church at Agia Triatha in the afternoon, there was such a flurry of excitement. My parents had always bought me such a pretty new dress, Mary Jane white patent leather shoes with my ankle socks. Getting dressed in all my finery, to attend Church services was such an exciting time.

My father would join the other Kytherians and would sing in the choir. The hymns which were so meaningful to our Christian Easter. There were few pews in the Church, and the service long. As a child, I would get so tired standing for such a long period of time. The Archbishop would address the Kytherian congregation attending the services. We had always, as we entered the Church, placed money in the tray, and would take candles to light, and say a silent prayer, and then we would pay our respects to the Holy Icon which was located near the tray of candles, with the sand to collect the wax as the candles burned.

After the services, over a hundred guests would congregate at our home. My parents were renowned for their hospitality. The garden would fill with many loved and respected friends and relatives, and I would take a basket given to me by my mother, full of the eggs which she had spent hours dyeing red. We would then do "skoundri". Many times I would be the one left with my egg unbroken. There were more eggs than I could possibly remember. The atmosphere was one of Kytherian people congregating in our home and garden, many seeing friends and family members who they had not seen for months, and at times longer. So many friends and relatives who had come from country towns, to share this special Christian Day.

We celebrated this day in a way which was festive, but still, expressing our deep religious beliefs. How often were the words, "Hristos Anesthi" and "Alithos Anesthi" spoken? This day was one when we would be joined with friends and family in our home to come together, to celebrate the true meaning of Easter. I had never been exposed to chocolate eggs and foil covered colourful rabbits. I would learn this in years to come. Nothing could replace the red eggs though, a tradition which we celebrated every year.

When I returned to Kythera, some years ago, accompanied by my son David, the true meaning of Easter was once again celebrated in the true meaning of this special Holy day. Seeing a truck arrive at the guest house where we were staying, full of different cheeses. Preparations well under way for the Easter celebrations.

The children from the neighbouring home came to ask if we would be attending midnight Church services. We declined, but, the next day, we dressed also in our finery, which was rare, as our life on the island was one of casual clothing. I lit a candle for my loved ones, living and deceased, saying a silent prayer, knowing I would be heard, and after the services, everyone had such a feeling of festivity, laughing, mingling, seeing so many friends and family, having taken time from the days when they worked so hard, to share this Holy day, dispersing eventually, to go to their individual homes to share the wonderful meal which awaited them.

We gathered at our family home for Easter lunch. Such a wonderful meal, prepared by my cousin Koula, coming together with other family members, and, as was custom, we finished our meal with the red eggs, and "skountri". I again was the final one to have an unbroken side of an egg. How different from the baskets full of red eggs I had passed out in my family home. Here, we had one egg for each person, but, the same spirit lived on, the Holy day which we had gathered to celebrate. I may have been raised knowing such an abundance of red eggs, and yet, these few eggs on the table held even more meaning for me.

The following day, we were invited to my best friend Marika's home for lunch. Marika had never married, and worked long hours, and lived the simple life which made her so happy. Marika brought many different dishes to the table, and with my cousins and my son David, we marvelled at the sumptuous meal she had prepared. David made me so proud that day, enjoying every dish she put on the table. How many sacrifices she must have made to place such a sumptuous feast before us.

As I recount these days, I must say now, that I would like to dedicate this column to my son David. My son, so proud of his heritage. A Kytherian Greek mother, and an Australian father, but more Greek than many full blooded Kytherians. Such a proud young man, loved by the Kytherian people, and he, in turn, such a deep love of our island.

He was such a common sight amongst the people working their fields. They would always stop to wave and greet him as he would walk past. David had such an incurable sense of adventure. He would leave some days, taking a back pack, with water, cheese and paximathia, and late in the day, and he would return from Louradianika, where he was so drawn, covered in black soot, but, being totally unaware of this, much to the amusement of the locals, and we would learn that he had climbed into the old wall oven in my family home, rescuing a notebook, burned on the edges, but containing dates which were a treasure to me. The dates of my grandparents passing, the most special. The book had survived the years of the oven having been lit. The only other item was a book, which had been circulated to all priests by the Archbishop the year I was there as a child. I could not believe that this book had withstood time and fire, with the date showing 1957. The lesson for that edition was for children to show respect for their parents.

The locals came to love David. We had gone with friends to Agia Elesa and the locals asked David if he would consider staying on the island, and becoming a Greek Orthodox priest. The fact that he could not speak Greek did not deter them. Such was their love for him.

Technology has made it possible for many of us to speak to our loved ones around the world on this Holiest of days - I hope you all take the opportunity to do so.

To my son, who inspired this Easter column: Hristos Anesthi David.
by Maria Whyte (maria.wwhyte@gmail.com)

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