After so very long, we finally had cause to celebrate in Greece. And even better, we were allowed to celebrate!
|Pascha - Easter in Greece is not to be missed even with COVID|
Megali Evdomada - the week between Palm Sunday and Pascha (Easter) is a time to celebrate rebirth. This year we were celebrating not only the rebirth of Christ but what feels like the rebirth - most certainly, the reopening -- of Greece itself.
|Church bells tell the Easter story|
Traditionally this Holy Week is marked by church bells chiming with regularity, their peals heralding the days of Easter with dirges mourning Christ's death or upbeat peals of joy for His resurrection. A year ago, the Easter bells were silenced by the country's first Covid lockdown. At the time none of us suspected it was only the first multi-month lockdown and that the second would drag on until it was a few days short of lasting six months.
|Church bells rang out during Easter Week|
On Maundy Thursday, the church bells began chiming. They rang again on Good Friday. While not a joyful peal because of the days in which they were commemorating it was a joy to hear them wafting across the water again as they had in year's before Covid.
Greek Orthodox Easter Week was the last week of April this year with Easter falling on May2nd.
|Easter Saturday night in the village|
Although we are still in lockdown, the government allowed modified church services and Easter traditions to take place - a significant step in reopening the country. The next giant leap came Easter Monday when restaurants, bars, cafes and tavernas were allowed to reopen for outdoor seating, (distancing, masks and group size limitations are in place at all those establishments). We still text for permission to leave our homes and curfew is in place.
Nothing Short of 'Giddy"
|Getting ready to open after six months closure|
The excitement of the upcoming reopening of eateries and watering holes, combined with the celebration of Christ's Rebirth brought the village to life last weekend. Painting of storefronts, setting up of outdoor tables and chairs under enormous umbrellas, planters being filled with colorful blooms, . . .well, to be honest, there was just a plain old 'giddy' attitude among us all.
|Easter Saturday fireworks|
Easter Saturday is one of the biggest nights in Greece -- the night when church services throughout the country concluded with the glad ringing of the church bells and candles are lit and the proclamation, 'Christos Anesti!' "Christ's Resurrection!" rings out from those gathered.
Usually held at midnight, this year took place at 9 pm as we still have a late night curfew in effect. Although not officially open until Monday, tavernas along the harbor allowed those coming for the service, the fireworks and festivities to sit -- socially distanced, of course -- but it felt so almost 'like normal'.
|Hot Air Balloons an Easter tradition|
We watched small groups of teenagers sharing whatever it is they share on mobile phones these days, their heads bent over the small illuminated screens. We watched younger kids racing through the parking lots.
Adults were lighting and launching hot air balloons, a tradition at Easter. We watched others walk towards the church where the evening service was getting underway. In previous years so many people attended the service that it has been held outside the village pharmacy so that crowds filled the streets. Not this year, as all services were confined to the church yard.
|Friends pause for a photo after candle-lighting|
The candles were lit at the conclusion of the service, calls of "Christos Anesti!" rang out, fireworks exploded over the harbor.
There have been bigger crowds and celebrations and there will likely be bigger ones again in the future. But after a somewhat bleak and very long lockdown, for the couple hundred people that had come to the village, this was definitely a night of celebration.
What's Next for Greece?
|Restaurants are reopen - a big step towards normal|
Major international media outlets have been announcing that Greece reopens to tourists from around the world this coming weekend, May 14/15. (Proof of vaccinations and/or negative tests are still being bantered about as requirements to avoid a quarantine. And arrivals will be subject to random testing as well). But at least the country is putting back the welcome mat they rolled up more than a year ago.
However, Greek media has been speculating that we who live here may still have some restricted movements, need to seek permission for movement (those SMS/text messages to the government) and other constraints. The Covid counts remain high in some areas.
|Cafes along the harbor in Agios Nikolaos are open again!|
Others speculate that once the gates open, they will be open for all. We are hedging our bets and making plans to travel as soon as it is allowed. You might just say we are continuing that giddy attitude, just thinking about the possibilities. At this point your guess about what will happen is as good as ours. . .we'll answer this cliffhanger in our next post!
Our thanks for the time you spent with us and our wishes for a 'giddy sort of week' for you and yours! Hope you will be back with us next week!
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