Sunday, October 31, 2010

St. Demetrios' Parade

Although St. Demetrios' feast day was Tuesday, the festivities in Thessaloniki last much longer than a single day. The Dimitria Festival, which began in the 14th century, runs around two months and is basically an international trade and culture fair.

In the Church of St. Demetrios itself, there is a Holy Week of St. Demetrios leading up to his feast, and nearly a week of afterfeast.

Every year, there is also a big parade that takes the saint's relics throughout the city. Last year, it was on the feast day itself, immediately after the Liturgy, and I was fortunate to participate. This year, it was on Monday, the day before his feast, and I decided to hang out with kids and enjoy watching the parade with them.

We went down Monday morning and parked a good distance away, and then walked over. On the way, we passed the Rotunda from 299 AD and the babies spotted an old play train that we stopped to play in. You can see the Rotunda in the background in the photo above.

We got to the parade just as it was about to begin and got a great spot near the beginning of it. In the photo above, you can see the Church of St. Demetrios in the background and the parade lining up from inside the church all the way to where we were. You can also see many nuns, most of whom were from Panorama's two women's monasteries. They all noticed the babies, of course, and were glad to see them.

All three of the babies wanted mom to hold them so that they could see more of what was going on.

Here's the parade going by us. You can see my good friend Fr. Panayiotis from our parish in Panorama walking by on the far left, and the icon of St. Demetrios atop a military jeep behind him.

Here are a couple photos from the next day, the feast day of St. Demetrios. In the afternoon, my parents took us all for lunch at a Syrian restaurant downtown. It's in a perfect location for the babies, because there's a small park right across a pedestrian walkway. (When I say "pedestrian," I mean that sort of theoretically, as is usually the case in Greece. As you can see in the photos above and below, there's a van parked right in the pedestrian way, and occasionally cars will use it.) Anyway, in the photo above, you can see Benjamin about to slide down to Pelagia. In the background to the right, you can see the restaurant. We were fortunate with the weather and we're able to sit outside there, going back and forth between eating and playing with the babies.

A view from our table to the playground, where my parents, Pelagia, and the babies were playing. Greek flags were flying this week in celebration of the liberation of Thessaloniki from the Turks just 98 years ago, in 1912, after 500 years of slavery.

No comments: