Saturday, April 25, 2009


Hoping that each and everyone of you are well…Things here in Greece are as good as always, we now have two teams arriving for our Spring program in the county schools, a foundation that many of you have been apart of .

Summer Camp 2009

Friday 12th June will be the last day of school here in Gazi. Monday 15th is the start of our very successful Summer Camp. This year we will have five teams, the last team ending in August. As you can imagine and from the numbers of children taking part over the last two years we are expecting a record number of students to sign up this year ( 2007 - 230 students, 2008 - 320 students).

The success of this camp has now reached the ears of many small villages in the County and students will travel up to 30 km to join our Volunteers. No experience is necessary just the ability to speak English and a love of children. The summer camp is very informal, teaching the students English using games, songs, theatre and outdoor activities. It takes place in a primary school which has class-rooms, blackboards, a large play ground, T.V and C.D players. There is also access to balls of all kinds, hoops and jump ropes.

What are you waiting for?

We need YOU!!!! With the larger number of students we need more Volunteers. It would be a real shame to have to turn students away… Please join us here in Crete to continue expanding the chain and give the students a Summer to remember….


Sunday, April 12, 2009


Easter Customs

These are customs related to the religious holiday of Easter which is the biggest celebration of the Orthodox Christians and the one richest in folklore. The word “Pascha”, Easter in Greek, stems from the Jewish “Pasah” which means “Passover”. Jewish people celebrated “Pasah” to commemorate their liberation from the Egyptians and the passage of the Red sea, while Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ the Saviour and the passage from death to life. The corresponding Greek word for “Pascha” is “Lambrí” (Brightness) because the day of the resurrection of Christ is a day full of joy and exhilaration.


Many of the traditions that bond the generations together occur during the Easter feast. Easter is the most sacred and celebrated of all of the Greek holidays. It begins with a 40-day fast, of the 40 days, one week is chosen for the complete fast, during that time only natural foods are eaten. No meats, dairy, fish, poultry or dishes that are prepared with these foods can be eaten. Shellfish can be eaten, however three days a week are meatless days during the remaining weeks of the fast. During Holy Week complete fasting is to take place. Palm Sunday, which is the first day of the Holy Week, is a day when only fish and fish courses are served.

Long ago in order to count the days people used to draw Mrs.Sarakosti. They didn't put a mouth on her face because she represented the 7 weeks fast period before Easter. Her hands are tangled because of the many prayers. She used to have seven legs, one for each week of the Sarakosti. Each Saturday they cut one leg of her. In Chios (a Greek island), people cut her last leg on Holy Saturday and they put it into a dry fig. They mixed this fig with some others and the one who managed to find it, it would bring him luck.

Easter is a moveable holiday. Its celebration falls on the first Sunday after the full moon of the spring equinox. All over the country a plethora of customs and traditions are observed during the week prior to Easter (Holy Week).


The preparations for the celebration of the Resurrection start on Holy Thursday. On that day housewives traditionally prepare tsourekia (sweet buns resembling brioche) and colour eggs with special red dyes. Ever since antiquity the egg symbolises the renewal of life and the red colour symbolises the blood of Christ. In the past, people used to place the first red egg on the icon stand of the house in order to cast out evil spirits. In some villages they used to mark the head and the back of small lambs with the red dye used for the dyeing of the eggs. They also used to keep one of the big round Holy Thursday loaves at the icon stand in order to protect the members of the family from spells.

Eggs are dyed red


Friday is the most sacred day of the Holy Week, the day of the culmination of the passion of Christ with the deposition from the cross and Christ’s burial. Because it is a day of mourning, housewives do not do any house chores, avoiding even cooking. Women and children go to church to decorate the Epitaph (Bier of Christ) with flowers they collect or buy. In the morning of Good Friday, Christ’s Burial is reenacted in church and in the evening the Epitaph procession takes place

Children decorate the shrine

The parade of the shrine through the town.


On Easter Saturday morning, preparations start for the festive dinner of the night of the Resurrection and housewives cook “maghiritsa” (a tripe and herbs soup). Shortly before midnight, people gather in church holding white candles which they light with the “Holy Light” distributed by the priest. When the latter chants “Christ is risen” (Christós Anesti), people exchange wishes and the so-called “Kiss of Love”. With the “Holy Light” of the candles they thrice make the sign of the cross on the door post over the front door of their houses for good luck. Then they allgather around the festively laid table, they crack red eggs and feast on the traditional “maghiritsa”.

Midnight mass Easter Saturday….Families gather at the church and at the strike of midnight light their candles and exchange wishes….Firework desplays then take place ( In Crete this is accompanied by the shooting of bullets from guns into the air….Balotyes)

Maghiritsa (Tripe soup)


On Easter Sunday morning, in many parts of the country lamb is prepared on the spit. From as early as 6am. In other regions, the meat for the Easter table - lamb or kid - is roasted in the oven. There is a festive atmosphere everywhere and people eat, drink and dance usually until late into the night.

Lamb on the spit

Breaking of red eggs