Wednesday, January 05, 2011

St. Basil's Day (Jan. 1)

Last week, we took the babies downtown to run some errands. We stopped by the Mt. Athos Pilgrims' Office, where the babies played around in the courtyard (see above).

The Christmas package from my parents also arrived last week. Perhaps because of the size, or just because of the additional Christmas traffic, it took quite awhile to get here. But it was worth the wait. Here the babies are playing with all their new Christmas toys. Although it was late for Christmas, it was in time for St. Basil's Day (Jan. 1), which is when the Greeks give presents, or at least traditionally that was the case. I've been told that this is starting to change in the last 10-15 years with the effects of globalization swallowing up local cultures.

On St. Basil's Day, after the Liturgy, we took the babies to a park near the church to play for awhile. Above, you can see Pelagia and the boys on the walkway and Phoebe going down the slide.

In the afternoon, we invited the Lillies to come over as we said the prayers for the cutting of the Vasilopita. It took us awhile to find the coin, but eventually Ann spotted in Benjamin's piece. In the photo above, we're showing the flouri to Benjamin. The stories about the original incident which this tradition commemorates vary, as you can see in the two links above, both of which differ from the version I usually hear here in Greece. But the basic theme is the same throughout them all.

Here's Phoebe hamming it up for the camera.

On Sunday afternoon, we took them to another Christmas village, which the Greeks call "St. Basil's village." Because of the various stories of St. Basil's generosity, the Greeks has always associated gift giving with St. Basil, not with St. Nicholas or Christmas Day itself. However, recently, kids, having learned about Santa Claus and the western tradition of gift-giving on Christmas Day, have gradually nagged their parents into giving them their presents a week earlier so that they can play with them during the week of vacation from school between Christmas and New Year's. In the photo above, we tried to get a picture of the babies with St. Basil, but they did NOT like it.

They did, however, like all the rides at St. Basil's village. Here they are on a mini-carousel.

And here are some shots (above and below) on a the big carousel.

On the carousel, we ran into our friend Anastasia Vassiliadou, her husband Arsenis, and their son Petros. Above, you can see our three and Petros (left) looking on admiringly at the train in the center of the village.

So Pelagia squeezed herself into a car with them and they all went on the train.

Afterwards, they found a mechanical horse, which turned out to be more like a bucking bronco. Above you can see Pelagia and Paul trying to hang on.

For a few more photos, click here.

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