Easter: The Transcendence of Kefi

9, May 2012 § Leave a comment

My expectations for the Easter weekend at Ekatontapyliani were set pretty high. And it delivered the goods. The promised rose petals fell from the dome at midnight on Good Friday, the lights of the church were extinguished at midnight on Easter Eve and then hand-held candles, carrying a flame from Jerusalem apparently, relit the church and sanctuary outside. Then sure enough there was a firework display in the square (followed by an unofficial one conducted by unruly teenagers that was menacingly close to the hoards of church-goers!).

But I wouldn’t dare purport to have experienced Greek Easter without having at least sampled ‘Mayiritsa’ — yes, that’s right, gut soup, eaten to reintroduce meat to the diet after lent. So we promptly drifted over to a nearby taverna at midnight after church and I gave it a go. I also ate a couple of ‘kokoretsi’ rings for my dad’s sake (England’s number one Kokoretsi fan, kokoretsi being chopped innards wrapped in intestines).

Although all these experiences were memorable, what really defined Easter 2012 for me was the impromptu dancing in that taverna after the Mayiritsa had gone down. I’m talking old men in the middle of the restaurant dancing ‘Zeimbekiko’ on smashed glass, with paper napkins snowing down on them, sweat and passion till 5am on Easter morning. The rhythm and the melody got me and I just had to dance. Just days before, Eleni had led a Greek dancing lesson on Zeimbekiko so a group of us headed for the clearing between the tables and joined in.

Although I had been taught Zeimbekiko before, Eleni was the first to teach me about the spirit behind the dance; its origin being an ancient war dance that soldiers performed to simultaneously express their pride, pain and passion. That ethos is still alive and literally kicking.

At one point a man jumped from being upright straight down to being horizontal on the ground in a press up position, picked up a wine glass with his teeth from the floor, downed the wine and then with a nod, released it sending crystals of glass in every direction much to the delight of the crowd.

But what never fails to astound me is the agility of the older men who, to be honest aren’t always at the peak of physical fitness. They manage to draw strength for their hops, leaps, twists and slow backwards bends from somewhere beyond their bodies, it must be from their spirits.

Let me introduce the Greek word ‘kefi’. ‘Kefi’ doesn’t succinctly translate into English but refers to an overflow of exuberance from your spirit which can manifest itself in dancing, singing or general high spirits. Sometimes it carries connotations of being so happy you’re a bit mad. What else could possess you to dance till 5 in the morning and not feel tired? In an instant it didn’t really matter who or what you were, we were one group moved by the moment and nothing else mattered. It can’t be planned or expected but sometimes Kefi strikes and when I look back on that night I’m reminded of exactly why I got a one-way ticket to Greece.

– Nicola Pasterfield

Student Post: Lliam Storms

12, April 2010 § Leave a comment

Before I moved to Paros three Easters ago I remember ranting and raving to all my friends about me being here on time for the greatest Greek celebration of all. Suma (a Parian name for a Greek moonshine also known as Tsipouro ), music, family and good friends and of course lamb on the spit!

It was indeed a boys morning this sunday. Shaun, John Masters and “The Butcher” Lambis impaled our lamb and got the coal going whilst most of us were still off in la-la land. By 11 more of us had arrived and we started the  roasting and roughly three hours of the same boring circular hand movement. Some adventure it was none the less. By the end of the procedure our lamb had an armor of wire tying it down as numerous times it had threatened to fall into the hot coal.

Spirits were high and the mood was great. Food had started to fill the tables in the Aegean Village courtyard with each student having prepared a dish or bringing a side or drink. Finally we could eat. Crispy roast lamb, amazing corn chowder,tasty ratatouille,fresh salads,easter bread, chips – oh no, sorry, “French Fries”-  you name it! This was a feast worthy of stretching for hours and boy did it ever! The afternoon passed slowly and wonderfully. There were calls for wine, occasional nibbles on what little food remained, warm laughter and humongous bellies resting on tired legs scattered all around the courtyard. If I cared enough I would now be on a strict diet to rid myself of the weight gained this Easter so BIG success says I !

Thanks to everyone for an amazing day and of course special thanks to the Packs for the lamb and little Gabriel (now twice my size) for all his help and company!

Lliam Storms is a photography student here at the Aegean Center. This is his third semester.

Student Post: Janine Uy

8, April 2010 § Leave a comment

Windows opening after a long winter sleep; fresh spring air rushing in; brilliant sun warming up the white walls and illuminating the world.  No one can deny that spring has arrived, and with the change of season comes one of the most anticipated religious celebrations, Easter.

Easter signals the end of Lent. It is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. Now when we talk of celebrations, no one quite does it like the Greeks do.  Greeks love a good celebration so you know they’re going all out for Easter. The past weeks leading up to this day have been full of activities for the Greeks. Everywhere you look locals are busy preparing. Walls and streets being cleaned and given a new coat of paint, store windows being revamped for the new season, tables and chairs being propped back in their place outside, and decors being put up. For weeks they have been preparing their souls and bodies through fasting and abstinence; and now, it is time for them to put preparation in full gear. A very important man is coming therefore everything must be in order.

The week of Easter arrives and the mood of the island changes. All the churches are opened and services are ongoing pretty much the entire day. More and more people are on the streets; mostly Greek families, but tourists are also to be seen. With each passing day, the feeling of anticipation intensifies. Good Friday comes and we all join in the solemn festivity at the Church of the Hundred Doors. The sense of a family coming together as one in mourning a great death is overwhelming. However, knowing that something much better is coming instantly soothes the spirit. On the eve of Easter, the Greeks ceremoniously take the light that shall serve as their illumination and guidance for the entire year. I did as any Greek did; I took my light back to my apartment and put a cross on my door.

It’s Easter! Christ has risen! It’s time to celebrate! At the stroke of midnight, you hear fireworks go off and people gleefully greet each other while protecting their lighted candles with dear life. To start off our celebration, we headed off to a restaurant where we partook in the Greek tradition of eating gut soup after the midnight mass. It is, well, an acquired taste, but is undeniably flavorful. I say you have to try it at least once. For our Easter lunch, John generously provided us with a lamb on the spit, which the boys cooked excellently. Along with the free flowing wine and the smorgasbord that left everyone too full to function, it was a day of being in high spirits with family and loved ones.

Janine Uy is a photography student here at the Aegean Center. This is her second semester.

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