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Opening up world of science to all April 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek, Science.
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Second International Science Film Festival at the Hellenic American Union runs from April 17 to 22 > ‘The Cycle of Life,’ from Denmark, explores life from childhood to old age.

Is there a fun way to learn about science? The Second International Science Film Festival, which will take place at the Hellenic American Union from April 17 to 22, is about to prove that science is accessible to all. The event, which will feature 36 films from all over the world, is organized by CAID (Center of Applied Industrial Design) in collaboration with the Hellenic American Union, which also hosted the first science film festival in May last year.

“The films that will be screened are not just documentaries. They are closer to the art of filmmaking. This festival is a fun way to comprehend scientific matters,” said Giorgos Zarkadakis, the former editor of Focus magazine, at a recent press conference.

Films from the UK, Austria, Canada, France, Senegal, Japan, Brazil, Denmark, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, the USA and Greece will be screened at the six-day event, which is under the aegis of, and funded by, the Ministry of Culture.

As Valentini Avgetidou, festival coordinator, explained, the films will cover a large variety of topics: From medicine, genetics and biology to new technologies and even a scientific analysis of infidelity, the films, whose duration ranges from five to 30 minutes, will cater to all tastes.

A nine-member committee, consisting of six foreign and three Greek acclaimed scientists, will give prizes to seven of the 36 films, which in turn have been selected of 80 initial applications. “There will be mainly two criteria in the prize selection. On the one hand, it is important for the films to maintain the validity of their scientific content when trying to convey their message in a more cinematic language. On the other, what is also important is the creativity and inventiveness used in turning scientific facts into cinema,” said Dimitris Potamianos, head of the committee. The prizes, which will be given on April 22, also include an Audience Award. Internationally distinguished theoretical physicist Dimitris Nanopoulos as well as Melanie Wallace, who won last year with her film about Einstein, will be present at the awards ceremony.

Potamianos also pointed out that the films are addressed to both a wider audience as well as the scientific community and that they are not too simplified to take part in the dialogue between scientists.

This year, finalists of the Famelab competition for young scientists have been asked to make short introductions before the screening of each film. Organized by the British Council, the competition is about science communication, conveying science to a broader audience in a fun way, and its final round is scheduled to take place tonight.

“The festival takes place so that science can reach everyone. People must learn that their life is science. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to understand as scientists use their own language,” said CAID director Fouli Leandri. “Some scientists are against the simplification of scientific terminology, but I find that unfair. Science belongs to everyone and the closer it is to the people, the better it is for the scientists,” she continued.

“Scientific matters concern society and society is obliged to participate in the scientific procedure as an evaluator,” added Zarkadakis. “People can only evaluate with an open mind and understanding how science works is the only way to have an open mind.”

CAID will later organize a seminar on science communication, which will teach the art of making science films. The seminar is considered a continuation of the festival.

April 17-22, Hellenic American Union, 22 Massalias Street, Kolonaki, Athens. Admission is free. For information > tel 210 7251893, or visit > www.caid.gr/isffa.

Rhode’s Ecofilms go to unexpected places April 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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The Ecofilms International Festival of Film and Visual Art, taking place on Rhodes from June 19-24, promises to take you to unexpected places and modify your normal perception of common concepts.

This is not an unreasonable claim for an event that has earned a name for presenting challenging and inspirational films and other visual stimuli.

The growing reputation of Ecofilms has attracted submissions of 400 films from around the world this year. Just over 100 of them will screen: three of them as world premieres, 12 as European premieres, and 61 will be seen for the first time in Greece.

“Ecofilms as achieved two things,” festival coordinator Nikos Nikolaidis told the press Tuesday. “It has established itself internationally and it has become tied to the city that hosts it. We appreciate the economic sacrifice made by the local administration.” There will be overtly environmental films on subjects ranging from climate change, the threat of desertification, the energy crisis and water resource management. As usual, Ecofilms takes “eco” to include human relationships and activities in the natural and constructed world, as well as the inner human world, and the films to be screened will reflect that broad interpretation.

Among this year’s events is a tribute to the veteran photographer and filmmaker Antonis Pahos, who has donated his vast collection of film about Rhodes for an audiovisual archive based on Rhodes. Ecofilms is restoring and digitizing the material to screen at the festival. Other tributes are to French filmmaker Jean Daniel Pollet, who worked for many years in the Dodecanese, and to creative documentaries. And there are still more films through Ecofilms’ new collaborations with the Mediterranean Cinema Institute and the Rhodes Art Gallery, which will run a parallel conference, and with the EU enlargement directorate.

The festival is organized by the Municipality of Rhodes and the Image and Environment Society, with the support of the Rhodes Cultural Organization, Dodecanese Prefecture Culture Organization, Ramsar Convention MedWet, Municipal Environmental Organization, Rhodes Cinema Society, the Greek Film Center and the UN Environmental Program Map.

Tally ends with single medal April 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Aquatics.
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Greece departs from Melbourne’s aquatic Worlds with one bronze medal, won on first day

The Greek National Team ended its appearance at the World Aquatics Championships in Melbourne with a solitary medal, a bronze won on the opening day of competition by Spyros Gianniotis in the men’s 5-kilometer open-water race.

At the previous Worlds two years ago in Montreal, Greece emerged with two medals, a gold for Aristidis Grigoriadis, who was 19 at the time, in the men’s 50-meter backstroke, and a bronze for the men’s water polo team.

Both Grigoriadis and the Greek water polo team competed yesterday, the event’s concluding day. Grigoriadis was unsuccessful in his defense of his world title won in Montreal. He ended sixth in the men’s 50-meter backstroke final with a time of 25.52 seconds. South Africa’s Gerhard Zandberg took gold in 24.98 seconds, Germany’s Thomas Rupprath won silver in 25.20, and the UK’s Liam Tancock won bronze in 25.23.

The Greek men’s water polo team ended sixth after a narrow loss against Italy, 16-15, in a penalty shootout in a playoff for fifth and sixth places. Greece made a late comeback in the encounter’s final period, to reduce a 9-6 deficit to 9-9 right before the end of regular time. In extra time, it was the Italians who came back from the dead with a late equalizer, 17 seconds before the end, that took the contest to a penalty shootout. Italy held on for a 16-15 final score and fifth place in the tournament.

Croatia upset traditional powerhouse Hungary, winner of the past two Olympic gold medals, with a 9-8 win in extra time that gave the Croatians their first ever water polo gold medal at the Worlds. The final had ended at 7-7 after regular time. Goalkeeper Frano Vican was the true hero, pulling off some stunning saves, including a blinder late in the final term which helped Croatia push the match into extra time.

“From the beginning we knew we had a chance, and to be honest we didn’t know if we could win gold but any medal would have done,” said Croatia’s Mile Smodlaka. “We didn’t lose our heads during extra time, we kept concentrating and that’s the main thing. I still can’t believe that we won.” Damir Buric added: “It was really hard, really physical. When you play a team like Hungary you know it won’t be easy. To be honest, I thought we played better than them but when we were two goals down I knew it would be hard to fight back.”

Spain took the bronze medal, prevailing in a marathon penalty shootout against Serbia.

Two Greek swimmers competed in yesterday’s final of the men’s 400-meter individual medley, but both failed to place for medals. Yiannis Drymonakos ended sixth in 4:15.75, just ahead of teammate Vassilis Demetis, who ended seventh in 4:16.83. The USA’s Michael Phelps won the event’s gold medal with a new world record of 4:06.22. Compatriot Ryan Lochte took silver with a time of 4:09.74 and Italy’s Luca Marin ended third in 4:09.88.

The USA topped the event’s medals table with a 21-14-5 tally. Russia ranked second with 11-6-7, and Australia third with 9-7-10.

Greece’s NBG offers easy access to cash transfer abroad April 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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The National Bank of Greece on Monday announced a new ATM service for citizens of other countries who are living and working in Greece, which enables them to send money back home securely and speedily, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

National Bank’s ATMs were recently upgraded to allow for this new service from more than 1,300 spots around the country.

The service is available to all customers who open up the new “Family Fast” account, which is addressed to citizens of other countries living in Greece, and offers a range of privileges in addition to this innovative method of sending remittances.

For the time being, the destination countries for remittances via National Bank ATMs are Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, India, Moldova, Ukraine, Pakistan, Romania, Russia and the Philippines. Gradually, the system will incorporate more countries.

National Bank (NBG) Vice President Ioannis Pechlivanidis, presenting the new product, stressed the importance that the Bank places on incorporating these citizens into the banking system. He particularly referred to the citizens of countries in which the National Bank Group has an active presence, noting the ability of serving those citizens and their families through the National Bank branches in those countries. The customers who choose NBG Albania, or UBB in Bulgaria, or Banca Romaneasca in Romania, as the destination bank, will also have a 50 percent discount on the cost of the remittance, which will be returned to the customer’s account at the end of the month of the transaction, he explained.

Apart from this innovative way of sending remittances, the Family Fast package also has a substantially low cost that renders it particularly attractive, according to NBG. More specifically, the cost of sending remittances via the National Bank ATMs is 10 euros per transaction, compared to 17 euros per transaction for executing the same transaction at the counter inside the bank. The fee is deducted from the customer’s account at the time of the transaction, and covers expenses incurred to the Bank abroad. Consequently, the recipient of the remittance will not pay any other charge at the other end.

The other privileges contained in the package are automatic payment of utility bills, for as long as the account is active, without any surcharge; free issue of the international ETHNOcash card for direct access to a customer’s account from ATMs outside Greece; free transfer of money from account to account within the National Bank system; ability to pay mobile telephony bills, insurance premiums or various subscriptions via standing order; the ability to use the account for transactions in investment products; ability to have the account credited with pension payments if the customer receives a pension from any Greek pension fund; and service even if the customer decides to return permanently to his country of origin.

Greek Easter > The days after Easter Sunday April 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Special Features.
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“New Week” (Evdomada Diakenissimou) > The week following Easter is called “Evdomada Diakenissimou” that means new week. The days are called accordingly Easter Monday, a public holiday in Greece, Easter Tuesday, etc. It is a very holy time and many events take place.

On Easter Monday processions take place at many areas. Early in the morning, after the services, each church brings out its standard and its Cross. In other places the main icon of each church is placed in another church for a period of time, during which daily prayer services are held. If Easter is celebrated after the April 23rd, then the Easter Monday is dedicated to Saint George, a beloved Saint for all Greeks. Many festivals take place on his memory and if his day that is the April 23rd, is during the Lent or the Holy Week, that no celebration can be performed, is moved on Easter Monday.

A nice tradition of Saint George’s day is horse-riding races. On Easter Tuesday an old tradition says that we have to light candles at three churches of countryside for good luck and health. Although Wednesday is considered not a good day for weddings, Easter Wednesday is the day that aged couples choose to get married. On the Friday after Easter the celebration of the Source of Life (Zoodohos Pigi) occurs, and festivals take place in many areas. During this time people go to liturgies and burn their Easter candles for three times. After that they can leave them to church or keep them near the icons of their house. The New Week ends on Easter Sunday, the Sunday of Apostle Tomas. 

“Analipsi” and “Pentikosti” > 40 days after Easter is the “Analipsi” or the return of Christ to Heaven. People stop saying “Christos Anesti” during prayers. An old tradition of this day is to take the first swim of the year to the nearest sea. Or just put feet on the seawater for good health.

50 days after Easter is the “Pentikosti”, the day that Holy Ghost came to the Apostles. Is always Sunday. The Saturday before, is the forth Saturday of the souls, the three first where at the end of Carnival and the begging of Lent. The Monday after is dedicated to Holy Triad, a public holiday in Greece. During these three days many festivals take place in many areas.

Easter diet traditions > The “traditional” Easter table varies regionally, although all over the country it mirrors that same age-old wisdom that nothing should be wasted. If one has fasted for 40 long days, abstaining from meats and dairy products, then the notion of savoring every last morsel is even more important.

Cheese, eggs, and richly scented breads play an important part on the table, but the meal is always centered around meat. On the mainland, generally, lamb is the meat of choice. In the islands, especially in the Aegean, it is goat.

Those heroic feasts so many of us are familiar with lamb roasted whole on the spit, in other words-are really a custom of Roumeli in central mainland Greece, and the Pelopponese alone. The practice has been adopted in other regions moistly because it is fun. In the Aegean, local cooks still abide by their own age-old traditions. In islands such as Andros, Samos, Ikaria, Lesvos, and Rhodes, the custom is to stuff a whole side of goat and bring it to the village baker early on Easter Sunday. The stuffing vary slightly from place to place, but more or less include rice, any available fresh herbs, from dill and fennel to more esoteric herbs such as lemon balm and poppy leaves, sometimes nuts and raisins, and sometimes the liver or other innards from the lamb or goat.

The Easter table everywhere in Greece is supposed to be as lavish and filling as possible, even though the Fast itself is broken with a few, very specific foods. After 40 days of abstaining from all animal products, it would be very difficult indulge in a huge feast without first, well, warming up to it. In the Greek tradition that means a small meal after the midnight Mass on Saturday night. The most widely engrained tradition is to make and serve mageiritsa, a lemony lamb soup made mostly with the animal’s offal, and lots of fresh lettuce and dill. The midnight meal also includes the traditional Easter bread and hard-boiled red-dyed eggs.

Off the islands and onto the mainland, especially in Thessaly and Macedonia, people show a pronounced appetite for offal in every shape and form. A local specialty in Thessaly is lamb’s cauls stuffed with innards and herbs and baked in tomato sauce. Farther north, in parts of Macedonia, where much of the local population emigrated from Asia Minor, another dish made with caul fat is called sarma. There, it is filled with sweetbreads and liver, rice and herbs. A similar dish, called trimma, may also be found in Epirus, over the Pindus Mountains, in northwestern Greece. There, ample eggs, liver, sorrel, one of the many local wild greens, breadcrumbs, and cheese make up the filling.

By far, though, the best-known offal specialty of the Greek Easter table is kokkoretsi, a medley of skewered innards wrapped tightly in intestine, doused with lemon, and either spit-roasted or baked.

Greek Easter > The Holy Week April 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Special Features.
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Easter is the biggest celebration of the Greek Orthodox Christians and the one richest in folklore.

The word “Pascha”, Easter in Greek, stems from the Jewish “Pesah” which means “Passover”. Jewish people celebrated “Pesah” to commemorate their liberation from the Egyptians and the passage of the Red Sea, while Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Christ the Saviour and the passage from death to life.

The corresponding Greek word for “Pascha” is “Lambri” (Brightness) because the day of the resurrection of Christ is a day full of joy and exhilaration. Easter is a moveable holiday. Its celebration falls on the first Sunday after the full moon of the spring equinox. Easter is by far the holiest of Greek holidays, but it is also the most joyous, a celebration of spring, of rebirth in its literal as well as figurative sense. Greeks leave the cities in droves to spend Easter in the countryside, usually in their own ancestral villages.

Lent > The 40 days of Lent, starting on Clean Monday, are the preparation period for Easter. During this period people prepare themselves for the Holy Day of Resurrection of Christ, the Greek Orthodox “Pascha”. The 40 days of fasting are an exercise for both body and soul. Many traditions related to this period give a very special character to Greek Easter. When we were small children, we used to paint the Lent as a Lady with 7 feet and no mouth, symbolised the fasting period where no meat, milk, eggs or fish could be eaten and some times not even olive oil on Wednesdays and Fridays. At the end of every week, we cut a foot and the last foot is for the Holy Week.

The only day that we are allowed to eat fish is March 25th, the day that Archangel Gabriel announced to Virgin Mary that She is going to give birth to Christ. This day is also a National Day Celebration in Greece because this day on 1821 Greeks started war for independence from Turks.

Independently of the date that we celebrate “Pascha”, the Lent has a part during March and we say, “March is never absent from the Lent”. This phrase is used for people who try to be present at every important happening. During the Lent no weddings are performed at churches.

Saturday of Lazarus > The last day of the Lent is the Saturday of Lazarus. Lazarus was a very good friend of Christ and his resurrection by Christ was a sign for His own Resurrection after a week. This day, in some villages, women bake small breads with the shape of human body, the “lazarakia” and children go from house to house, singing about Lazarus and his resurrection. 

Holy Week (Megali Evdomada) >
Palm Sunday (Kyriaki ton Vaion or Vaioforos) >
Palm Sunday is the start of the Holy Week. In the morning, all churches offer palm leaves reminding the triumphal entering of Christ in Jerusalem before the Passion. We are aloud to eat fish. Just to find the strength to continue the fasting for another 6 days. The afternoon of Palm Sunday and every afternoon of the Holy Week, people go to churches to attend the “Akolouthia tou Nymfiou”, special liturgy.

Holy Monday (Megali Deftera) > We start shopping for the goods we are going to prepare the next days. The lamp, the eggs, etc. In the evening we all go to churches.

Holy Tuesday (Megali Triti) > Preparations start and fasting goes on. In the evening at churches we listen the hymn of Kassiani.

Holy Wednesday (Megali Tetarti) > On Holy Wednesday, the service of Holy Unction is performed while the faithful kneel before the priests anointed with the Holy Oil to receive forgiveness. In the evening, at churches, the center of the ceremonies and services is the “Washing of the Disciples’ Feet” that takes place at many areas. For example, at the island of Patmos, a platform is set up in the square of the main town, which is always crowded for the occasion. During the ceremony, which lasts about an hour and a half, the Bishop, who “plays the part” of Christ, washes the feet of twelve monks, the Disciples, in imitation of the action of Christ before His Crucifixion.

Holy Thursday (Megali Pempti) > The preparations for the celebration of the Resurrection start on Holy Thursday. On that day housewives traditionally prepare tsourekia (sweet buns resembling brioche), avgokouloura (cookies with flour and eggs), ouzou (cookies with flour and the drink ouzo) and colour eggs with special red dyes. Ever since antiquity the egg symbolises the renewal of life and the red colour symbolises the blood of Christ. In the past, people used to place the first red egg on the icon stand of the house in order to cast out evil spirits. In some villages they used to mark the head and the back of small lambs with the red dye used for the dyeing of the eggs. They also used to keep one of the big round Holy Thursday loaves at the icon stand in order to protect the members of the family from spells.

On the morning of Holy Thursday, groups of children visit all the neighbourhoods of the town, carrying baskets, singing and collecting flowers to decorate the bier of Christ. The epitaphios procession takes place in the early morning hours, after the Crucifixion rite, after which it is also customary for women to stay in church to sing the traditional laments. In the evening at churches, the service of the Twelve Gospels and the enactment of Christ’s Crucifixion are taking place. The faithful offer wreaths to Him.

Holy Friday (Megali Paraskevi) > Friday is the most sacred day of the Holy Week, the day of the culmination of the passion of Christ with the deposition from the Cross and Christ’s burial. In Greece shops and every kind of services are closed until 12 o’clock, the end of “Apokathilosi” that is the Mourning procession that starts early in the morning carrying an effigy of the body of Jesus (Epitaph). During the representation of the removal of the body of Christ from the Cross, it is sprayed with rose petals and placed on the Holy Altar. All day church bells rink with a mourning sound. Because it is a day of mourning, housewives do not do any house chores, avoiding even cooking. Women and children go to church to decorate the Epitaph (Bier of Christ) with flowers they collect or buy.

The Lamentations are chanted in the evening, followed by the exodus of the Epitaphs carried in procession through the streets of every village after three rounds in the churchyard. Some times, in big villages or towns with more than one church, Epitaphs gather in the main square and all people and priests chant Lamentations.

Holy Saturday (Megalo Savato) > On Holy Saturday, a morning prayerful church service is performed. The priests dressed in white scatter balm leaves and rose petals while church bells ring happily and chanters hymn in praise of Lord. At many areas the custom of ‘the earthquake’ is carried out. This is a re-enactment of the earthquake that took place after the Resurrection, as described in the Bible. The congregation beats the pews rhythmically, while outside chaos reigns, with gunfire, firecrackers and fireworks. This is a part of the ‘First Resurrection’ ceremony. Another custom is to close the doors of the church, and the priest, having made three circuits of the church while chanting, kicks open the central door and enters, singing the psalm “Arate pilas” that means open the gates. Another special tradition of First Resurrection is the ‘Pot Throwing’ custom that takes place at some Ionian islands, especially Corfu. Local people throw pots out of their windows, smashing them onto the streets below. Some times pots are filled with water to make a louder crash. They also hang a red cloth to their windows, red is the color of resurrection. Also in Corfu, the custom of the ‘mastelas’  (washtub) has been revived. A half-barrel decorated with myrtle and ribbons, is filled with water, and passers-by are invited to throw coins into it for good luck. When the first bell sounds for the Resurrection, someone jumps into the barrel and collects up the money. In old times the diver was not a volunteer but an unsuspecting passer-by, thrown in against his will.

Late in the evening, at 11 o’clock, everybody gathers in the churchyard. All over Greece the ceremony takes place on a platform outside the church. Everyone holds a candle which will be lit from the holy flame. Before midnight all lights of each church are turned off and the priest appears at the Royal Door offering the Holy Light to everyone’s candle. He says “Defte lavete fos” that means come and take the Holy Light. This unique flame comes directly from the Holy Grave of Christ in Jerusalem and it lights miraculously without any human involvement. An airplane goes to Jerusalem to brink the Holy Light to Greece.

Once people receive the light, at midnight exactly, the Priest takes the holy icon of Resurrection and steps on the special platform outside the church. The Second Resurrection happens and as soon as the priest says ‘Christos Anesti’ that means Christ is Risen, a huge and magnificent bonfire starts. Everyone shakes hands and wishes a Happy Easter to everyone around them and the so-called “Kiss of Love”. It is considered lucky to reach home with your candle still alight! With the “Holy Light” of the candles people thrice make the sign of the cross on the doorpost over the front door of their houses for good luck.

When the family is back from church, is time to sit around the festively laid table and try one of the oldest Easter traditions, crack red eggs. Every member of the family has their own egg and tries to break the eggs of the other members of the family. Whoever’s egg breaks all the other eggs without breaking will have a good luck all year round. Preparations for the festive dinner of the night of the Resurrection start on Easter Saturday morning and housewives cook the traditional “mageiritsa”, a strong tasteful soup made of innards and aromatic herbs.

Holy Sunday or Easter Sunday (Kiriaki tou Pascha or Lampri or Pascha) > On Easter Sunday morning, in many parts of the country lamb is prepared on the spit. In other regions, the meat for the Easter table, lamb or kid, is roasted in the oven. There is a festive atmosphere everywhere and people eat and dance usually until late into the night. Many people fast for the 40 days of Lent and the final week is a very strict fast, no meat or even olive oil! So this day is dedicated to eating! Nothing is wasted from the Easter lamp, even the intestines, liver, lungs, lights and kidneys are packed with herbs and roasted to form a huge kebab called ‘kokoretsi’ the wine flows freely and don’t be surprised if you are invited to join in the celebrations. Families exchange visits from one house to another, bringing egges, “kokoretsi” and cookies.

On the afternoon of Easter Sunday “Second Resurrection” takes place, at which the Gospel of the Resurrection is read in seven languages. This is the “Service of Love” and expresses the fact that the message of Christ’s Resurrection transmits its redemptive Power to the people of the world.

Later in the afternoon, in many places, the custom is to burn an effigy of Judas. The young people make an effigy of Judas out of old rags, put into its hands the price of betrayal, a bag containing 30 pebbles, and hang it in the courtyard until the rags catch fire and go up in flames. The festivities continue with dancing, singing and eating! People crack red-dyed eggs one against the other and stick the shell on doors or throw it into the garden to bless the harvest.

Greek Orthodox Easter or Pascha brings relief and joy April 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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In the crisp, early morning darkness, 25 families will walk briskly around their church, re-entering to find themselves enveloped in light, as if emerging into heaven.

This is how the congregation of the St. Innocent Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Everson will spend the wee hours of next Sunday morning. After Holy Week honoring the last days of Jesus, this is the beginning of Orthodox Easter, or Pascha, a day of celebration for the Eastern Orthodox churches.

“That’s our biggest celebration of the year, more important than Christmas or anything,” says the church’s Rev. Deacon Gregory Newman. “It’s a big deal. It’s the biggest deal of the year. We have a lot of feasts during the year, but Pascha is No. 1.”

Because its date is based on a different calendar, Orthodox Easter usually falls later than Western Easter. This year, however, both Easters fall on April 8, so churches throughout the county will likely swell with visitors.

“Usually Pascha follows Western Easter, so we get all the leftover stuff on sale. This year people have to pay full price for the candy,” Newman jokes.

Though members of both churches revel in decorating hard-boiled eggs, Orthodox churches eschew the playful pastels and dye their eggs a deep scarlet, a color inspired by the blood of Christ. Despite the serious connotation of these crimson eggs, they are often used in a traditional Easter game. People tap the tops of one another’s eggs, and the person whose egg lasts longest without cracking is considered lucky.

For Tasia and Nick Tsoulouhas, owners of Cascade Pizza in Bellingham, Easter is a family affair, especially the eggs, which are always dyed on the Thursday before Easter. Tasia, 50, says her three children loved decorating eggs when they were younger, and now as adults they still look forward to it. “They can’t wait,” she says. “We do eggs every year together. It’s fun.”

Another tradition for Greek Easter is roasting a lamb. The whole Tsoulouhas family gets together to barbecue on a spit.

“It’s fun to have everybody sitting around and having ouzo and wine and having fun,” she says of the cooking process. “You have to start early in the morning, and it takes four or five hours to cook the lamb and it’s fun to see all the guys sitting around watching the cooking.”

For the Tsoulouhas family and many other Greek families, Easter is a time to celebrate and to remember their Greek roots and heritage.

“I grew up in Greece, so it’s a big thing,” Tasia says. “This time of year I really miss it. I went there last year and it was really beautiful.”

For other Orthodox church members, Easter provides a much-needed lift after a week of worship.

“We’ve been through a really long Lent and a long Holy Week, and we’re ready to celebrate,” Newman says. “We are so serious during Holy Week and we work so hard that I love Pascha morning because it’s a real sense of joy and happiness. And I guess relief because all the work is over and the celebration can begin.”