Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Clean Monday

Hi all! Sorry for the long delay in posting something. My trip to the Holy Mountain was very nice. I took about 250 photos, so it’s taking me some time to go through them all. Look for posts on it in the coming days.

More recently, Pelagia returned here on Sunday, and Monday was, of course, Clean Monday. In Greece, this is a big holiday. It is traditional to be outside, eat fasting foods with your family, and fly kites. For a short wikipedia explanation, see here.

Each municipality puts on a public gathering on this day, so we went to the one here in Panorama. In the town’s public park, children were flying kites, they were giving out free fasting snacks (such as a special bread they make), and they had traditional Greek music and dancing.

Pelagia experimented with the video feature on our camera to capture some of the dancing, which was amazing. Now we’ve posted it to YouTube, where you can watch it here for free. We weren’t really sure what we were doing, so the video is short and sort of starts and stops at random places, but now we’re learning. Hopefully, we’ll have more short videos in the future!

For those coming from the Russian tradition (and therefore most American converts, it seems), all this may seem a bit scandalous for the first day of Lent. Yet it works here, and it’s been the tradition since Byzantine times. The ethos of the Orthodox faith here is different than I’ve ever experienced. I can’t explain how much I’ve learning just by being here.

Anyway, look for photos from Mt Athos in the next day or so!


Susan said...

Orthodoxy in Greece is a religion of joy. Greeks by nature are happy, outgoing people. They have fun everywhere they go, and in all they do. Including religion.
I never could understand why the converts are so solemn.
Me, being a convert myself from the Catholic church.
Of course I had my husband to show me the way.
We have visited your church in Yakima.
We were there for a baptism of one of the Copeland babies!!

papa herman said...

Glad to hear your time on Mt. Athos was good. The video was enjoyable, and I think turned out okay.

A blessed Lent to you!

Pres. Irene Supica said...

Hello, Gregory. Just wondering about your comment that most converts seem to come from the Russian tradition in America. Is that true? Upon what evidence to you base this conclusion? Anyway, maybe the celebration on Clean Monday might be because people are excited about Lent? Maybe this is an example of "bright sadness" that Fr. Hopko talks about. Your comments are thougth-provoking.
Kali Sarakosti,
--Pres. Irene

Gregory said...

Hi Presvytera!
Well, what I meant was it strikes me that of the few almost wholly 'convert' parishes that I've attended, they seem to follow traditions (with a small 't') that I can't find here in Greece. I used to be under the impression that these traditions were THE Orthodox tradition and that Greeks were just sort of too nominal to do things 'correctly.'
For example, I thought that the proper (and therefore ONLY) way to greet a priest was to cup one's hands and ask for blessing. Well, they just don't do that here -- it's not their tradition. The Romanians don't do it either. Interestingly, they make a slight bow to the priest, who then may put his hand on top of their head. It seems that the tradition I learned in America is a Russian practice. That's just one example. There are other differences that, frankly, I don't know where American parishes get their tradition. I'm only assuming it's from Russia, because no one here has heard of it! As for the Clean Monday practice, I think you're absolutely right -- it's the joy of entering into Lent, and therefore the Resurrection of Christ. And I love it!
The Orthodox ethos here is, to me, completely different from the piety I learned in convert circles in the US. I'm not saying better or worse, just different. And I think it's interesting.