Last night we experienced a very interesting piece of Greek Orthodox culture: The Good Friday parastasis procession at Marpissa. This is a big event for the Easter holiday but I had not attended before mainly because I have little patience for events scheduled at 10:30 P.M. that don't start until well past 11.

This year, however, I decided to practice my patience and not have any expectations of timeliness and organisation. Yet when we were comfortably ensconced after dinner the thought of putting on our winter clothes to moped 30 minutes to the far side of the island had little appeal. I shamed myself into making the effort and was well rewarded. I don't think I had been there at night before and I was amazed how large the village was all lit up. Floating above it with an intervening dark space was the monastery of Agios Andonios , which is perched at the pinnacle of a steep hill.

Sure enough the procession came out of the church door about 11:15 and we shuffled along with the crowd past the first of many still life scenes from the passion and resurrection of Christ. The costumes were quite elaborate as well as brightly colorful. Normally the traditional Greek costume is much more subdued. In the course of a 30-40 minute walk through and around the village there are 10 to 12 scenes. Some of the actors take the easy way out of establishing comfortable postures of lounging or leaning on a shepherd's crook, but the principles seem to take pride in assuming a difficult-to-hold pose. All in all it was well presented and performed.

The major problem was that lighting was beyond the capabilities of my digital camera--or beyond the capabilities of my operation of it anyway. So we have no photos.

The culmination, but not the last, is the depiction of the Crucifixion. Three men are hanging from the three crosses surrounded by the soldiers, Mary Magdalene and others described in the bible. It does drive home the agony of the happening. We could tell the audience appreciated the entire presentation of bringing religious teaching off the printed page and into personal experience. By the way, I noticed there was a high percentage of young people in the audience, not just the elderly who normally attend services. There were not many children because they were in most of the tableaux.

We concluded after midnight with an ice cream at a busy shop and then headed home just as a small shower started. By the time we came around the South end of the island it was raining hard. Since April showers bring May flowers, I will show some flowers next post.


At April 25, 2006 8:09 AM The Naked Nerd said...

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