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Fortællinger fra Kreta | 31

Tales from Crete | 31

When the present, history and faith unite

Easter in Crete started little by little already on Wednesday, because down here where I am right now, it is a week late compared to our Danish Easter, because we have 2 different time scales. But that is not the essential thing. The important thing is that Easter down here has now started. The children have painted eggs red and decorated them very nicely. It is completely ordinary Easter eggs that are used, i.e. not something with large chocolate Easter eggs, but completely ordinary chicken eggs. Because the egg is a symbol of fertility and the red color symbolizes the blood of Jesus and is also the color of love.

Thursday was a normal working day for most people. But many Cretans put on their nice clothes and went to church in the evening to take part in the sacrament, which in both our Christian faith and the Greek Orthodox faith is one of the highlights, so to speak. The Cretans are invited to dinner or communion in the church on Thursday evening, and therefore they have of course put on nice clothes. In Jesus' time, one also washed one's feet before the meal, for the simple reason that one walked in sandals and the feet were therefore dirty after a long day of walking in the sand. And since you almost ate while lying down, it was not very pleasant to have a pair of dirty and acidic feet right up near the food.

Friday (Good Friday) when Jesus was crucified in the 3rd hour which corresponds to At 09:00 all the churches start by ringing some very slow and ponderous bells, somewhat in the style of what we in the Danish folk church call prayer bells. They stay on most of the day until 9 o'clock, which corresponds to 15:00 where Jesus, according to the Gospels, died after 6 hours on the cross. After that it is quiet and in the late afternoon the vast majority of Cretans go home from work and the shops close. According to the Gospels, Jesus was to be taken down from the cross at sunset, because the Jews did not want the executed hanged after dark. That is why the churches start again on Friday evening with a mass at sunset that illustrates Jesus' way to the tomb with a procession where you carry Jesus' body to the tomb and walk through the streets and alleys, just as they did back then. The only difference is that the present is completely different. There are cars and illuminated advertisements, people like myself with my mobile phone out to film the procession of several hundred people. Children and adults along the route, line up in front of their houses and businesses with candles in hand and elderly ladies dressed in black also line up along the road swinging small lamps with incense. The smell of incense sticks puts a devotional and solemn atmosphere over everything, and no matter how much or how little you believe yourself, you are taken by the atmosphere. A young mother with her 5-year-old child, who has walked right in front of me for part of the journey, suddenly jumps into the procession and runs to the large flower-adorned stretcher that the men in the procession carry on their shoulders and which makes it in front of the body of Jesus , places her hand on the bier, kisses the bier several times and makes the sign of the cross before bowing and running under the bier as the procession continues, hastily rushing across to the opposite side of the road.

Everything is as usual at this procession through Agia Marina. A couple of young Danish male tourists, who at least haven't spent time in the sun, stand with a Mythos in hand as the procession passes. Just before the procession passed, they were in full swing with a loud discussion about whether Brøndby or FCK was the best football team in Denmark. But as the procession draws closer, the discussion falls silent, the hand-bagger is put on the ground and they just stand there as if petrified and watch.

In other words, everything is as it should be and as it usually is. The only thing about this procession that did not go quite according to plan was that the black escort car with a discreet blue flashing light on the roof, which was otherwise supposed to make sure that the procession could pass safely through the streets, did not know the route completely and forgot to turn from up towards our hotel. But a Greek Orthodox priest does not care about such trifles. He just orders the entourage to continue as planned, with or without an escort car.

It is Good Friday in Crete. On Saturday evening, it is the midnight service and all the traditions and symbolism that come with it, before the Easter lunch and 40 days of fasting take their final conclusion with grilled lamb on the menu all Sunday.

I want to wish you all a really nice weekend here from Crete where the sun has taken over today and is shining from a cloudless sky.

Tales from Crete | Elena's - The taste of Greece

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