Monday, April 5, 2010
Easter started last Saturday, when everyone with family leaves Athens and goes to their family's village. So everything has been deserted for the past week. For the actual festivities they started on Friday. We went to an Orthodox church with a recent Greek convert. Friday is called Ascension after the death of the savior. For the ceremonies, they build a funeral bed for the savior and ornament it with flowers and it is made of precious metals. They parade it through the streets and have incense and hand oils that represent the burial perfumes that were a custom of the time. So we paraded through the streets behind this pyre. Lots of people hold candles as they walk. They say a prayer when they get back to the church and then everyone goes underneath the bed and into the chapel. It is considered a token of good luck to go under it and also could grant wishes. So as all us missionaries went under the bed, we wished for many baptisms. (Haha) Then the next night on Saturday, at Midnight they have Agio Fos, or Holy Light. It is a tradition where everyone meets at a church and the priest is said to receive the the light from Christ after it is lit in Jerusalem in symbolism of His resurrection. Then he lights people's candles from his, then they turn and light others candles. We attended this celebration at the church on the highest peak in Athens. We were able to see the entire city of Athens and the lights from several churches. After a short sermon they also have fireworks. Which is an amazing sight to see. On Sunday, everyone goes out in the street and roasts a whole lamb on an open spit. But the best part of this Easter weekend was not the pageantry and the fireworks. It's the knowledge of the atonement that the Savior did for each and every one of us with his infinite and atoning sacrifice. That is the true miracle of Easter.