As time passes by, the more I realise how hard it is to maintain our traditions from abroad.
People are openly willing to do so but it’s simply the experience that doesn’t ‘fit’. The St. Sophia Cathedral in London is wonderful; majestic design, beautiful wall paintings, moving choir. But still, I find it hard to adjust to the ‘processes’; having to wait until the security ‘clears’ the entrance to the church, having to obey to whatever the ‘church people’ direct you to do (and by no means be on their way, like dare to stand in front of the candles because you distract their ‘job’), having to accept that standing in the vertical street to the church is the best you can do to attend the Resurrection mass. Maybe it’s just me, but I find the whole experience rather ‘detached’, too focused on ‘order’, too procedural.
Then, it’s the whole package that is hard to reconstruct in foreign soil. Clearly for all permanent and temporary Londoners, it’s rather strange having a ton of meat for dinner at 1 am. It’s certainly even harder to justify why this is the case to non-Greeks, who find the entire process ‘cool’ but the surrounding traditions quite odd! In any case, eating steak fillet, with jazz music behind the London Eye, at 5 degrees celsius is not exactly how Easter looks like. I guess it’s a good attempt though to strike a balance between our Greek & London selves! I don’t mention the ‘egg story’. When I first painted eggs, in a gigantic casserole full of red liquid, a few years ago, my boyfriend surely thought I was going crazy. 3 days later, when I perfectly naturally said that it’s ok to eat them, he was first shocked and then he trashed them to protect me from food poisoning! :p
And then there is always the question of whether we should even go to the church, knowing that we will witness the ‘resurrection moment’ from the opposite pavement. I wondered the same yesterday, when I couldn’t even get the ‘holy light’ because of… lack of candles! One one hand, I simply didn’t know where to buy (and reaching the church entrance to buy one was out of question), while on the other hand, my boyfriend’s suggestion that a tealight candle would do the job, was immediately rejected! I guess for young Greeks abroad, reasons to go to the church include listening to Greek being spoken around and meeting with Greek friends we haven’t seen in ages because of too much work or too much studying! In any case, there is a narrow scope of things to do, other than socialising, while resting assured you are yet-another-Greek, not in Greece, during these days. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one face-timing my family in Greece, with everyone startled on the crowd standing and my mum trying to check if my boyfriend remembers the Christos Anesti song, she taught him last year!
I am sure we all miss Greece a little bit more these days. When we started leaving from the church, I had the feeling that we were all thinking the same; ‘now what?’ Bayswater was flooded with Greeks waiting for Uber and red buses, while others were running to catch the last tube. The candles soon stop shining and we all merged with those around us, for whom, this was nothing but an ordinary Saturday night.
I have always felt that Easter is the best manifestation of our traditions, our family bonds, our culture. I guess, I need to accept it will never be as colourful and warm as in Greece, no matter if we replicate our traditions abroad. But it’s always worth trying to keep up with them. Things change and our traditions will evolve with us, as we lead our lives abroad… Today I ate half a package of chocolate brioche, which I wanna think that it tastes like tsoureki, I received my grandma’s wishes on the Facebook chat, and, I scared both my boyfriend and friends with a screenshot of my uncle proudly showing a tray containing a creepy lamb head, surrounded my lemons!
We might not be in Greece, but it’s still Easter!
Καλό Πάσχα everyone !