In my family, Easter is a big deal. I grew up in a Greek Orthodox Christian household, where Easter is the most important event in the entire religious calendar--and we grew up celebrating it as such. In fact, it’s less of a single-day event than season, starting two months before the official date.
Lent, starting 40 days before Easter, is a time to reconnect with your spiritual life, specifically how it affects your connection with yourself, other people and God: you focus on praying more (your personal connection with God), asking for forgiveness (you to other people), repenting for your sins (you with yourself), and serving others.
As Pascha approaches, the preparations ramp up: Holy Week, beginning 7 days before Easter, is also known as the week of the year when church becomes a part-time job. The beautifully chanted services happen every night and every morning, then on Friday midday and culminates on Saturday night from 10pm until the wee hours.
It's okay, I make lamb.
In addition to the spiritual aspects, it’s a time to get reconnected with our Greek heritage. My Yiayia starts cooking and fretting and telling other people to bring more spanakopita, we figure out how much lamb to buy, Greek dance playlists are made, third cousins are invited over, and the scene in the house begins to approximate My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
When I came to college, I felt some anxiety coming into the Paschal season, because its a time of year that is completely intertwined with family, home, church--things that were uprooted when I moved halfway across the country. Freshman year, my friend George invited me to his church and family celebrations in Lowell, MA, which I gladly accepted. It was wonderful: all the church, Greek food, and overbearing aunts I could wish for--but I also felt determinedly like a guest. I didn’t know the cousins, I didn’t recognize the people at church, his grandmother made a different magiritsa recipe than mine.
That’s why, for the past two years, I’ve changed my approach. Rather than dropping into the fully authentic Greek Easter where I don’t quite belong, I decided that what I was lacking was the sense of community, the joy of being with people who I love, celebrating the culmination of a spiritual journey and looking forward to the year ahead.
There are definitely approximations made: this year, the diners were more likely to be atheist or Jewish than Orthodox. But that’s irrelevant in the face of who they are: my former, current, and future housemates, the people I enjoy Sunday potlucks with, the friends who I go to for emotional conversations and the ones I call up for adventures. The attendees are the ones who, even though they aren’t necessarily Christian, will learn to say “Χριστός ἀνέστη!” because they know that it’s important to me.
Friends help friends eat baklava.
And that’s why even though the tsoureki was made by a kid from New Hampshire, dessert included baklava, peeps, and Girl Scout cookies, and nobody knew the steps to the kalamatiano, it was one of the best Easter celebrations I’ve had.
There are four weekends in April. I intend to enjoy every one of them. Here are my plans.
One: Silent Rave
The idea is that everyone comes with their…
As my time at Tufts comes closer and closer to and end, I’ve done more reflecting on my time here. In particular, when events or holidays roll around,…