What an experience it has been, a highlight of our travels to spend Easter in Crete. We arrived yesterday, welcomed with candles to partake in the Greek Orthodox traditions of “Big Saturday” (closest translation of a reference similar to Holy Saturday). At 11:00 PM we went to the cathedral to join hundreds of worshippers for the final hour of the day’s ceremony. The melodic chanting of priests spilled out through the courtyard and into the streets, all leading up to the “sharing of the light” at midnight. People came out from the church and passed the flame from person to person, lighting the candles each had brought. The courtyard and streets were filled with a candlelit procession of people, kissing their loved ones and celebrating the light of Christ.
Today, Easter, was a big family day, marked by celebrations centered around the roasting of lamb on a spit over an open fire. (Those practicing Greek Orthodox religion have not eaten meat for the last 40 days, a practice similar to our Lenten abstinence). There were also died eggs, some special breads, and children carried balloons through the streets. Every restaurant in the Old Town area has been roasting lamb all day.
I jotted down a quick note to self to capture the moment as we walked around the harbor this afternoon: “Easter Sunday 2017, Crete–The atmosphere is one thing, vibrant with happiness and celebration. But it is completed by the ever-present and wafting smells of lamb, roasting on spits around the entire harbor. Sunshine, gentle breeze, people, distant music of street musicians, and the smell of roasting lamb. This is Easter in Crete.”
This evening we shared in the traditional roasted lamb dinner and it was delicious. The restaurant we dined at had gone through eight lambs, and they were just putting the ninth on the spit, by the time we ate.
We love you so much, Mom, and are grateful for all we share.