SKopelos

By Sofia, May 4 2019 06:48PM

Colour and aroma fill these stunning spring days on the island.


The ancient rites our community observes at this time of year symbolise the awakening of nature from its winter slumber ... and with a momentous breath, spring has filled the hills and slopes of the island with myriad of colours.


Vibrant fields of vivid colours across the island mark spring's awakening
Vibrant fields of vivid colours across the island mark spring's awakening
More vibrant fields
More vibrant fields
May Day wreath (home made, of course!)
May Day wreath (home made, of course!)
Colours of Easter day
Colours of Easter day
Sue and Bob's Easter eggs. Theirs were more natural than mine!
Sue and Bob's Easter eggs. Theirs were more natural than mine!

By Sofia, Apr 26 2019 06:15PM

This year, the end of April marks a triple holiday in Greece.


First is the most important religious and cultural event in Greece, Easter (Πάσχα), the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - the foundation of the Christian faith. In Greece this year, Easter Sunday is the 28th April.


On Easter Monday, 29th April, we celebrate St George's day. Saint George (Άγιος Γεώργιος) was born in AD 280 to a Christian family in Cappadocia during the rule of Emperor Diocletian. As an adult, he served in the Roman army, but was executed in AD 303 for standing against the persecution of Christians.


In sainthood, he is reported to have performed many miracles, the greatest being the slaying of a dragon. He is often portrayed astride a white horse slaying the dragon and is, of course, the adopted patron saint of England. He happens to be also the patron saint of Bapchor, my birth place in the Macedonia of northern Greece.


The byzantine style church in what used to be the village settlement is named Sveti Georgi, to honour the saint. Usually, Saint George's day is celebrated on 23 April. However, when 23rd April falls before Easter, as it does this year in Greece, Easter takes precedence and St George's day is held on Easter Monday in Catholic and Orthodox communities.


On May 1st, May Day, we celebrate both the coming of spring and the recognition of workers' rights. Its origins go back to pagan festivals and the beginning of the growing season, but since the riots in Chicago Haymarket on 1st May 1886 demanding an 8-hour working day - and later the Russian Revolution on 1st May 1917 - it also became adopted as a symbol of workers' rights in many countries.


Ironically, it is rarely recognised in the United States of America where it has generally been replaced by Labor Day on the first Monday of September to disassociate it from its leftist direction. To be precise, this day in Greece is not a holiday, but a 'general strike' in support of the disadvantaged, which bears a kind of similarity to St. George sticking up for the Christians!


Light and life of resurrection in Sveti Georgi
Light and life of resurrection in Sveti Georgi
Sveti Georgi Kambanio
Sveti Georgi Kambanio
A poster for the General Strike against the evcition of refugees
A poster for the General Strike against the evcition of refugees

By Sofia, Apr 22 2019 10:24AM

Yes, this year we are exactly one week behind with Easter to the civil calendar, known as Gregorian!


We celebrate Easter in accordance to the Julian calendar, which is thirteen days behind the civil calendar. There are times when the dates of Easter are concurrent and there are times when the Gregorian Easter is ahead of ours. There are variations which have to do with the moon cycles which shift the dates, but - to be perfectly honest - I don't know what these are!


This week is the most austere Lenten week for those that take fasting seriously. Those who tend to skip the lengthy fast generally participate in it the last week. Already, Skopelos is filling up with islanders who live outside most of the year, but come back for the Easter week. I am off to the Macedonia of Northern Greece, to my birthplace.


Enjoy Easter everybody, whichever you might be celebrating!


Abundant forage to share
Abundant forage to share
A beautiful full moon over Skopelos harbour
A beautiful full moon over Skopelos harbour
Steafnia and her son, Aris, certainly take fastng seriously!
Steafnia and her son, Aris, certainly take fastng seriously!

By Sofia, Apr 5 2019 08:22PM

This blog should have been put up earlier, but I couldn't resist blogging it, albeit late.


The event marks the Sunday of Orthodoxy, a bright event within the atmosphere of the Lenten. I compare it to the 'trooping of colours' because of the icons and colourful cloth of the priests.


In reality, the Sunday of Orthodoxy stands in remembrance of the end of iconoclasm and restoration of icons in the faith, which was held in 843 AD. I took these photos because of the bright colours of the event and the fact that my favourite photographer, Virgil, is being photographed for a change, instead of photographing the event, which he usually does.


Why the switch? Virgil is the Keeper of the Monastery where the icon he carries is housed. The Panaghitsa is a major icon in the order of icons on the island. It is said that it was washed onto the shores of Skopelos island in perfect state many centuries ago.


I have known Virgil for many years and know that his family has spent a small fortune to keep the icon in good order, so surely for it to be washed in perfect state from the depths of the sea warrants a miracle status.


British Politics would surely need a similar miracle to achieve the harmony of the past!


Colourfully-cladded priests follow the icon
Colourfully-cladded priests follow the icon
On to the monastery - a service will be held when the icon is in position
On to the monastery - a service will be held when the icon is in position
My friend Virgil leads the procession
My friend Virgil leads the procession

By Sofia, Mar 27 2019 08:26PM

The turbulent vista of the images of the waterfall (below) is reminiscent of the state of current British politics!


I took a break recently, to visit West Macedonia. We drove through beautiful wild, majestic mountainous regions with impressive skiing slopes, fast flowing rivers, waterfalls and lakes, passing abandoned villages with magnificent vistas, but only very few people.


The birds swimming in the lake, with the town in the background, are pelicans, native to this region, and they are swimming in Kastoria lake. So similar are the views, that my Skopelos neighbour mistook them for swans in Skopelos harbour!


We stopped for what proved to be a delicious meal in a fish taverna on the Small Prespa lake, where the agreement between Greece and Northern Macedonia was signed and the border between the two neighbour states, finally, after decades, opened.


Let us hope that the turbulence of British politics is sorted, hopefully soon.


A waterfall of Macedonia
A waterfall of Macedonia
Pelicans on Kastoria lake
Pelicans on Kastoria lake
Prespa lake
Prespa lake
Walk around Kastoria lake
Walk around Kastoria lake
Having a really grand and fresh meal on the shores of Prespa lake
Having a really grand and fresh meal on the shores of Prespa lake
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I'm Sofia, 39 Steps' owner and host. This is an occasional blog to keep in touch with my regular guests, give a taste of Skopeliti life and share my experiences of foraging through the summer season

 

Sofia

 

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