Monday, November 22, 2010

What's in a name?

Yesterday I went to a baptism, a very important event for every Greek. Because this is the moment where the child finally gets its name. Until then it is just called baby. It is still very common, especially in smaller communities like our island that the children are named after the grandparents. First after the parents of the father of the child and then after the parents of the mother of the child.

Many names have a religious background and are originated from the Bible. Instead of birthdays, the Greeks celebrate name-days. Every day of the year has its own saint or even more.

Today 22nd november is the day of Valerius, Filemon and Cecil. Well known days are for example Saint Nicholas (6th December) Saint George (23rd April) Saint Dimitrios (26th October).

There is also a category of names that have a literal translation: for example Agapi (love), Elpida (hope), Irini (peace), Sofia (wisdom) and Eytixia (happiness, which is by the way my mother in law's name) but also: Paraskeyi (Friday) Kiriaki (sunday)

Another very important category of names: The ancient Greek names. These are the very same names that were common in the ancient times of Homer, Plato and Socrates.

Achileas, Alexandros, Aristidis are still very much heard today.

Very popular is to shorten the names, so you hear a lot of Makis, Takis and Sakis for the men and Koula, Voula and Soula for the women.

Unfortunately, not following the tradition of name-giving often still leads to family feuds that can last for generations.
But this will not happen with the baby on the photo above who was baptized Stamatis, after his paternal grandfather. His nameday will be 8th November together with Angelos, Angela, Efstratia, Gabriel, Matina, Metaxia, Michael, Michelle, Raphael, Stratigos and Taxiarchis. A busy day for saints!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Panagia Eikonistria

Today and tomorrow the island is celebrating its biggest local religious feast. It is in the honour of the Virgin Mary.
Around 1650 an icon of the Virgin was found in a tree in a very secluded area. A little church was built in this place to honour the icon. Later it became a monastery. In these days there are no longer monks living in the monastery but the church is still in use.
And once a year on the 20th of November, the Icon is brought from the main church in town, where it is kept, to the monastery of Eikonistria where it was found all those years ago.

This is done by foot, following the old original path to the monastery.
The icon will stay there all night together with many people who will have a feast in the old cells, with prayer but also with food, wine and music. And tomorrow morning they will walk the icon back to town.
Here are some foto's of today's beautiful walk and more can be found here

Before the start of the procession, there is a lot of shooting to welcome the icon.

It is a long but beautiful walk. In the far distance you can see the path we have to follow

Here is the view from that path.

Some do the walk on barefoot

Arrival at the monastery

The old church built in the 17th century

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What was I thinking?!

Today I did the most stupid thing you can imagine and it could have ended in a tragedy but fortunately this story has a happy end:

A group of my friends go for long walks in the mountains almost every saturday. Today was such a beautiful day and I decided to join them. We were meeting at 1 o' clock. When I left the house to walk to the meetingplace, Rollie, our little dog, was so excited to come for a walk that I decided to take her along.

What was I thinking?! Rollie is 15 years old, deaf, a little bit overweight and never has been on a mountain hike before. But she seemed so happy to come along that I couldn't leave her behind.

We drove to the starting point with two cars. We started walking and soon left the dirt road to continue the hike through olive groves, up and down mountains, through woods. It was beautiful. The views were breathtaking.

Here she is still with us.

At some point we came to another dirt road which we crossed to continue our path. This was where Rollie decided she had enough and took of on her own over the dirt track. Before I could reach her she had run away and disappeared over the hill.

Since the rest of the group had moved on, I had to follow them if I didn't want to get lost.

It was a beautiful walk but of course now we were all worried about the dog. We made stops at a couple of the little churches and I was hoping Rollie would have found her way back to the cars and would be waiting there for us.

When we finally returned to the cars, she wasn't there. That's when I realized how stupid I had been for taking her along. We drove back to town, looking out for her but there was no sign. By the time I got home I felt terribly guilty and decided to take my motorbike and return and try to find her. Well, to make a long story short.......I finally found her not far from where we had parked the cars.

My friend came to pick up the dog with her car and to drive her home and I drove back on my bike through the mountains in the pitchdark which was a little bit scary.

And now we are home recovering from this adventure.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Early this morning

It was such a peaceful sight early this moning when I looked out my kitchenwindow. The sea was like a mirror, smooth and calm. Very slowly a little boat floated by; one of the neighbors fishing for octopus that probably will turn into a lovely stew for his dinner tonight.

I just couldn't choose which photo to upload so I show you both.