Here it is Thursday, a just-another-day, Thursday in our expat world in Greece.
|The iconic Macy's parade in New York City - Thanksgiving Day|
Thanksgiving is that Thursday-in-November-feasting-and-football-watching holiday in America that originated back in the 1600's as a celebration of the bountiful harvest. In recent decades it has been the unofficial kickoff for the Christmas Season. My favorite part of the day used to be when Santa arrived at the end of the televised Macy's [department store] Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. It meant it was time to decorate for Christmas! And I assume he still arrives - we just don't watch US television in Greece.
Thanksgiving Thursday has also - in recent years - become the precursor to the Retail World's Black Friday - a day that needs no explanation unless you have been living on Mars.
|Black Friday is alive and well in Greece|
But we are in Greece where Thursday is Thursday. However, Friday is Black Friday here, the dash-for-deals holiday that begins minutes after Friday arrives. Our Facebook inbox has been filled with Black Friday specials all week - most of them from Greek retailers and travel industry sites. As a side note to those ads, I did try ordering from one of the Greek sites,and got as far as putting in my credit card information and realized there was no option for an American credit card. Sale not made and I saved even more money than I would have!
|Our olives - The Stone House on the Hill|
I suspect Americans who indulged in Thanksgiving feasts this year spent little time thinking about bountiful harvests. I can assure you that in our slice of the Greek Peloponnese we may not have been feasting in the American tradition, but harvest is on the minds of all. Following a very dry year, one plagued by the pesky Dako (olive fly that destroys crops) there are thanks being offered each time the olive oil flows from the processors.
I've often written that harvest is my favorite time of the year here. The whirring noise of olive harvest equipment provides background sound as families and friends gather to bring in the crop. Slowing to a stop on roads that have been covered with nets-- to catch the wayward olives that have been beaten off the branches - while harvesters pull them back for us to pass is one of those reminders of why I love this harvest season so much. That, and of course, completing our own harvest.
|Nets drape our terraces, olives in the foreground|
We were among the early harvesters and completed our one-day effort before the end of October. It is our seventh season of spreading nets and filling burlap bags with those emerald oil jewels. There is nothing like the intense aroma of olive oil in the air as we sit to the side of the rumbling, churning processors waiting for the magic moment our olives become oil.
|The Stone House on the Hill, traditional Greek ladder in foreground|
Our harvest was a whopper for hobby olive growers as we are, we who boast either 17 or 18 trees in our grove and gardens. We took 800 pounds of olives to the press, and they were turned into 59 liters of oil. . .not bad for two old boomers who didn't know an oil-producing olive from an eating olive when we bought our Stone House on the Hill.
|A matter of hours later - our olive oil|
Holidays in our Slice of Greece
|Epiphany - January's Blessing of the Water a Greek celebration|
So back to holidays. Here we celebrate Independence Days (of which we have two - one in the spring and one in the fall), we celebrate Saints Name Days, the Blessing of the Water and Christmas. And what a joy it is to celebrate those ages-old-events that are so new to us! We came wanting to experience a new culture and there is no better way than celebrating a Greek holiday, like our local village's celebration of Agios Dimitrios Day
Things like Halloween, Valentine's Day and Thanksgiving, while big in America, pretty much go by without notice in our village. Larger cities like Athens did have Halloween decorations up when last we were there near that holiday.
|Thanksgiving Thursday lunch on the waterfront|
Thanks to the many of you who have sent us Thanksgiving greetings (which are always appreciated) and inquired whether we would be gathering with other expats for a turkey dinner. We did not. We spent our Thursday running errands in the big city Kalamata and had ourselves a treat of a lunch at a new hotel there, the Grand Hotel Kalamata. Our feast was a club sandwich. . .and feast it was!
|A Thanksgiving Thursday feast|
We have, in the past, celebrated with fellow American expats and had Thanksgiving Day feasts patterned after those back in the States. They are always fun get-togethers, but then we expats enjoy get-togethers any time of the year. Even meeting for morning coffee feels like a celebration.
And to those who have asked, yes, we can get turkeys here, but the selection is greater at Christmas, a holiday celebrated by Greeks and expats alike. And we even have pumpkin pie with real whipped cream. . .thankfully, some expat friends actually bake them and share them with us! (That was a skill I didn't develop in America and have not pursued here!)
|Konstantina's Pumpkin Pie and real whipped cream|
That's it for this week. Our holiday wishes to those of you celebrating Thanksgiving. And to all of you who join us here at TravelnWrite, please know that we are thankful to have each of you with us ~
We'll be back soon with more tales of our brief taste of Italian dolce vita. Until then safe travels to you and yours ~