Saturday, May 16, 2015

May Day at Panagia Xenia and Amaliapoli

As you may know, May 1 is a holiday in Europe, celebrating workers' rights. In Greece, it is also connected with an ancient Greek (pagan) custom of going out into the countryside at the start of spring to collect flowers and weave a wreath. This is the one holiday in Greece that has no connection with the Church.

In any event, schools are closed, so we decided to take a trip with the kids to the Monastery of (Lower) Panagia Xenia. There, we met with the Gerontissa and were able to venerate one of the monastery's most treasured relics, two small pieces from the Holy Belt of the Theotokos. According to the inscription on the reliquary, they were given to the monastery by Vatopaidi Monastery of Mt. Athos in 1552. The Gerontissa told us that they say the belt is made from camel hair, and you can see where it was embroidered and protected with gold and silver thread during the Byzantine period.

For the kids, perhaps even more exciting were the monastery's deer (above) and quail (below).

Here's Dami looking at the quail. 

And here's the entrance to the monastery.

After our visit to the monastery, we headed over to Amaliapoli, a picturesque town on the shore. We tried to find a place to eat, but the town was hopping for the holiday. Nevertheless, the kids had a good time sticking their feet in the ocean, playing at the playground, and--especially--playing with a snail they found in front of the church.

Here they are with the snail.

The church, dedicated to the Transfiguration, is built on a slope overlooking the ocean.

The kids also found some turtles -- including baby turtles -- that were being cared for, it seems, by one of the restaurants.

And here they are playing in the water on a very nice, warm day.

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