Day 8: Easter

Easter celebrations actually began on day 7 at 11:30 PM, but since that post was long enough and most of this was technically on day 8, I will just start it here.

Previous Posts in the series:

  1. Getting Ready
  2. Day 1: Traveling
  3. Day 2: Manuscript Business
  4. Day 3: The Paleographer
  5. Day 4: Catalog Day
  6. Days 5 and 6: General Work Days
  7. Day 7: Road Trip to Sounion!

As we approached the little church down the road from where we are staying we saw a few tables setup for selling candles. Everyone else who was packing around the church had one so we figured it was a good idea to get some for ourselves, so we bought candles for each of us. At around 11:30 some chanting began within the church, though it would played outside by a set of speakers setup near the back of the church. After a while the priest/bishop (not sure) came out and he and some others gave various readings, very little of which I recognized. At some point during this the candles were lit, starting from within the church.

Right at midnight they let off a huge fireworks display from both the building top across the street and from behind the church. It must have gone on for several minutes and was a sight to see. After this most of the crowd left, though I stuck around and started making my way toward the church building. It was far too small to fit the number of people left, but some did not apparently want to go in.

I stood in the back and observed. The visible part of the building was in three pieces, the foyer, the area that the congregation gathered (I stood in the doorway between them) and an area beyond in which the priests carry on some of their liturgical practices. In the front-right of the congregational area was a reading stand and several men took turns reading. In the front were prominently displayed two icons, on the left one of the Theotokos (Mary) and on the right one of Jesus. The inside of the congregational area was painted all over with pictures of disciples and (possibly) other saints. The style of the Greek on the walls was unusual. I am not used to reading it.

The style of the worship experience was not one I am used to. There was no congregational singing. Most of the time the congregation stood (or if they were old, they sat) and listened to the readings and prayers, though occasionally someone would cross themselves or go to an icon, cross themselves, and kiss it.

I left a little before 1:00 though the service lasted till 3:00. Afterwards three of us sat and chatted nearby until we headed off to bed. I slept in and because of the previous busy day and did very little more than nap, read and play spider solitaire. And that was day 8.