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.
Today 30 January 2019 we celebrate and honor in the Greek Orthodox Church the Three Hierarchs.
The celebration of the Three Hierarchs started in the 11th century when Constantine III Monomachus reorganized the Law School of Constantinople. At that time there were three Saints who were seen as the Saints of education namely Gregoreios the Theologian, Ioanis Chrysostom and Vasileios the Great. During the reorganization the reorganizers could not decide which one of the Saints to place on top and this resulted in a division of the Christians so the ones were called the Gregorites, the others the Ionanites and others the Vasilites.
Until John Mavropos, who was then the Metropolitan of Euchaite, had a vision in which he saw the three Saints. They told him that they are equal to eachother and that they can’t be seperated, that between them there is neither the first nor the second, but if you see one, the two others are next to him. So John Mavropos gave orders to stop the quarrels and stop dividing them for they cannot be seperated and so these three Saints became the Three Hierarchs, the three Saints of education and on the day of their celebration all schools are closed.
From the 11th century on you can also see them together on icons and they are honored every year on the 30th of January.
2018 is gone and we are the start of 2019. A lot of Cretans have celebrated the change of the year with a game of poker or with playing the dies, for money so that they will have a wealthy start of the New Year! (not for the loosers of course but who knows who is going to lose or win at the beginning of the game…)
Before they start playing the family gathers together around the table for a dinner of greek specialities and of course also the melomakarona and the kourabiedes, these two “cookies” are made especialy for these days and everybody loves them, in nearly every houses these cookies are baked and they give the house that special Christmas and end of the year smell, as all Cretans say, you can’t celebrate the end of the year without this smell.
After dinner Agios Vasilis or Santa Claus comes around with gifts for the children, as the first of the year is the name day of Agios Vasileos the great or Saint Vasilis (Basil)
You see that a lot goes on on New Years eve in Crete, it is a party in which the whole family participates, young and old!
Yesterday in the early evening I was talking over the phone to a friend of mine when the church bells started sounding, wondering why, he told me that on the 3 of November Saint George methystis is celebrated. A bit a strange name for a saint as ‘o methystis means’ the drunk one.
I know, the Greeks have a lot of saints, they have more than one saint Georges and even more virgin Maries etc… The story of this Saint George is quit simple, the 3th of November is the day that the wine barrels are opened as the wine is ready to be consumed and has to be tasted. The 3th of November is also the celebration day of Saint George and as the Greeks celebrate this day with tasting wine this particular Saint George is called now Saint George the Methystis as a lot of people get drunk on that day So Yamas!
Matala is a small village at the south side of Crete, where the Lybian sea is, there is a beautiful bay there with a sandy beach. The beach and the caves of Matala are well known all over the world because during the 1960s and ’70s hippies from all over the world lived there. They had no rules, no bills and no restrictions. They were free people living from nature in nature.
Every year now you have the chance to relive the hippie atmosphere here in Matala, every third weekend of June there is a hippie festival where ‘everything’ is allowed.
When I go to Matala I usually have lunch in Taverne Minos Palace, Stefanos cooks here for 24 years now, no need to say more about it’s kitchen. The staff is very friendly and professional too, just give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.