Also on Good Thursday, Megali Pemptie preparations for Easter go on. This is the day that the eggs are colored, the traditional color is red that stands for the blood of Jesus Christ, but nowadays also other colors are used. Me I still only use the red color because I like to hold on to tradition.
Good Thursday is also the day that the women go to church with flowers, they will use these flowers to decorate the Epithafio. The Epithafio symbolizes the tomb of Christ and will be used during the Procession on Good Friday. Here in Fodele the Epithafio is decorated with orange blossoms end this smell will stay for a few days in the church now. All women of the village love to participate in this but some will not be allowed because the women who have there monthly period are not allowed to enter the church.
Megali Tetarti or Good Wednesday is also a very important day in the Greek Orthodox religion, as it is then that the priests during the evening service bless the oil. Oil that is used to bless people and protect them against sickness of body and mind. To bless the oil the priest will read 7 gospels and announce 7 wishes. After he blessed the oil he will put with the oil a cross on the believers forehead, cheek and hands.
In several places in Greece also eggs, flower and salt is taken, covered in a basket, to church where it will be blessed by the priest by crossing it with the wooden holy Cross. The eggs will then be colored on Good Thursday and the flower and salt will be used to make the dough for the ‘prozimi’ or yeast that will be used to make the Easter bread, as also in the bread that will be made in the following year.
It’s Catholic Easter today and Palm Sunday for the Orthodox church. It’s cold in Crete (14° C) for the time of the year, but I decide anyhow to go for a walk to the monastery of Agios Panteleimonas, a distance of a bit more than 3km from where I live in Fodele. The path goes up and after a while I start having stunning views, over the village, the orange groves, the mountains, the olive trees, I see the flowers of the Cistrus Creticus everywhere, so I really enjoy my walk up.
After half an hour I reach the Monastery and my good mood is swept away when I see this
There is an entrance fee to pay! I am so disapointed….., I don’t understand, this is a small monastery, with a great history , yes, that you can read inside, but there is no museum or anything else that you should pay for. This is a religieus place, a place for prayer. I visited the Notre Dame in Paris last winter and there was no entrance fee to pay.
I went inside, sat down for a while to listen to the psalms, I took some crosses specially made for Palm Sunday and I left.
Yesterday I went on a trip up on the Psiloritis mountain to have lunch with sheppard Andreas. He lives in the village Livadia in the Idi mountains and he has been a sheppard for his whole life. He loves being out there in the nature high up in the mountains
with his sheep and goats. Together with his brothers they have around 3000 animals to take care of. Today 200 of them are already up on the mountain where Andreas milks all 200 of them twice a day and they give him each time around 100 liter of good quality milk. The other animals are still on the land they have further down the mountain and they will be brought up until the end of April.
Andreas will be milking the animals twice a day until the end of May and then for about one more month he will milk them once a day. From the month of July on the animals will mate, so they won’t give any milk until they give birth about 5 months later.
During the months that the animals don’t give milk Andreas still goes up to give them extra food and water but also because he loves being up there.
His family also built a chapel there, a saint George chapel.
Close to the chapel there stands a very large Stone Oak tree where you can enjoy the real sheppard’s lunch called antichristo. Which is lamb that is cooked next to the fire instead of on the fire. No herbs are needed during the preparation of the meat as his animals eat lots of herbs during their time in the mountains. Andreas is a very good cook and also very good company, he likes to talk about his life and work up there on the Psiloritis.
The road up to his mitato is not an easy road as it lays on a hight of 1200 meter but it really is worth the trip.
If this looks like something you would like to do during your stay in Crete than don’t hesitate to contact me.