I thought there would be drama when my daughter discovered that the 'Service of Lamentation' on Good Friday coincided with the finals of Young Talent Time. Thankfully, she had the good grace to realise that gyrating teenagers were unlikely to lose out to the most spectacular church service in the Greek Orthodox calendar.
During this service, the bier, decorated lavishly with flowers and bearing the image of Christ, is carried on in a procession through the streets. Traditionally in Greece, this would be carried through each village. In our suburb, it skirts our local shopping centre.
The service begins inside the church, where exquisite chanting rises above the haze of incense and candle smoke. Everything is slow and mournful. For me, the time seemed right to ponder the Two Big Ones: ‘What is the meaning of life?’; and ‘Is there life after death?’ I don’t expect a voice to reach out and give me the answers, but it's as good a space as any to reflect on these questions. It’s also a fitting time to think about my lovely friend who died recently, and where she might be now. I can only hope that she is all around those of us who love her.
Inside the church, it's all about the spiritual. Outside, on the street, it's about all the social—a time to catch up with people you haven’t seen for a while, or even to flex your flirting muscles. I overhear someone say suggestively, ‘Didn’t I see you here last year?’
We walk past pyjama-clad kids and teenagers, who have their iPods and iPads out, recording the spectacle. We smile at onlookers. They smile back, who look a little bewildered at the sheer number of people walking past. It’s been over 50 years since the bulk of Greeks migrated to Australia and yet, here we are, three or four generations, walking sticks and strollers and all. What a spectacle - beats watching YTT.
Check out the links for more photos by George Mifsud, dying eggs, making tsoureki and what to do with all the blasted chocolate Easter eggs (please, more suggestions welcome!).