Greek Easter
Easter is the most important celebration for the Greek people. This year, 2005, Easter was late in the year. Good Friday was on 29th April.  For weeks in the lead up to Easter villages were tidied.  Houses, walls, trees and the pavement edges were white-washed. Even the pavement edges in Chania received  the white-wash treatment. 
The last rain had been on 1st April, and leading up to Easter the weather was warm, sometimes hot, and sunny.

Every day our landlord visits the house to work in the garden - his wife often joins him in the afternoon to work in the vegetable garden and to feed the three sheep that we see running around in the olive trees - just under our bedroom balcony.  We are able to have fresh lettuce from the garden which is combined with 'snipped' green onion tops, broad leafed parsley and dill. This is simply dressed with olive oil and lemon juice to make a delicious salad.  Our landlady supplies us with olive oil and eggs.  There is a lovely lemon tree in the garden.  We are able to pick fruit in their orange grove.
The garden has been full of flowers, mainly beautiful roses, since the beginning of April.  We have seen the grape vine almost grow overnight and watched the tiny grapes form.

Provarma where we now live is a five or so minute walk up the hill from the village of Stilos.
We have had several walks in and around Stilos and seen wonderful scenery and wild flowers.

29th April - Good Friday - for days leading up to Easter the valley echoed to the sound of priests chanting and church bells tolling. On Friday evening we wandered down to Stilos to find all the tavernas closed. Many people were at a long church service. Earlier in the evening an elaborate, flower-decorated structure depicting the tomb of Christ was paraded around the village in a procession with the priest and villagers.  They then returned to the church for the service.

30th April - Easter Saturday - in the late evening we had a meal in Stilos. We met Chris and Helen, who were nearing the end of their holiday and we joined them for the end of the church service. This was attended by all age groups from young children, teenagers to elderly people. Everyone has a long slim candle.  At midnight the priest is locked out of the church. He knocks three times on the door - announces that 'Christ is Risen' and is re-admitted.  Everyone then tries to light their candle from the priest's holy flame and then join a procession around the outside of the church.  A huge bonfire is lit with deafening fireworks. The aim is then to get back to your house with your candle still alight and mark a cross above the door - to ensure good luck through the year.
1st May - Easter Sunday - this is a feast day when many people eat meat for the first time after the forty days of Lent.
We had been invited, by our landlords,to a barbeque at our house in Provarma. We joined Yiannis and his family for a wonderful meal of: Easter spinach pies, lamb (only two sheep now under our balcony) pork, salad and bread - all washed down with wine and beer. This was followed by fruit, Greek coffee with spoon sweets and Easter biscuits. Niki, Yiannis' wife joined us later when she had finished work.  One guest at the meal was their future daughter-in-law.  We were invited to her wedding to George - more about that on the next page.
2nd May - Easter Monday - we had been invited by friends A and M to a barbeque at their house overlooking Georgioupolis.  They had had a great barbeque built in the garden and put on a great spread for relatives and friends. The weather was hot and sunny and we had another enjoyable day.

3rd May -  we visited the Tax office in Chania in an attempt to obtain a tax number (which we will need to purchase a car)  It seems you need a permanent resident of Crete with you - preferably a Greek speaker.  We will have to do this again when we return later in the year. We wandered around the old harbour and enjoyed a lunch in a favourite taverna, so it was not a wasted journey.

4th May  - we paid a final visit to the post office at Vamos to collect the last of our re-directed mail. While in Vamos we called in at the new house of friends who were in Crete for a week, buying furniture etc. and checking on progress. It was lovely to see them again. We have watched their house being built over the winter months.  It was great to see it nearing completion.

5th May - friends Alan and Margaret came to our house in Provarma for lunch. We had a pleasant couple of hours chatting while we sat on the balcony overlooking the valley.

Later in the afternoon Libby and Jim visited (after several attempts they managed to find us) We sat outside, on the balcony, for tea, strawberries, walnut icecream, cake and cinnamon biscuits. We had spent the winter as their neighbours and it was great to see them again.  We sat outside chatting until after 8 p.m.

Our return to the U.K. on 10th May to sort out our house and sell our car, in order to return to Crete long term is fast approaching. Before then we have lots of organising to undertake. We also attended a wonderful wedding - more about that on the next page.

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