A leading London based fostering agency like Rainbow is fortunate because so many of our carers come from an amazing range of cultural backgrounds. This means we enjoy the constant stimulation of learning about traditions from around the world. We have some dedicated Greek foster carers so we are already thinking about Easter again – May 1st 2016 – Greek style! The Greek Orthodox church – which is part of the Eastern Orthodox church – has a membership of around 95% of all Greeks and a long tradition. The Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches were once combined but there was a split in 1054 – caused by the usual themes of religious intolerance and theological disagreement. In modern day Greece, most young people are not devout churchgoers but Easter remains a time of special celebrations. Centuries old traditions have survived into modern day society with enigmatic symbols, rituals and and customs from pagan times still featuring as part of the Easter celebrations. These pre-date the beginning of the Christian era.
“Clean Monday” marks the start of Easter preparations. This is seven weeks before Easter Sunday and a time of fasting for Greeks. During this period meat, fish, eggs and dairy foods are not eaten.
Later, Holy Thursday, is a time of baking and then dyeing boiled eggs bright red to symbolise the blood of Christ. Special Easter biscuits are made called “Koulourakia”. Thursday is a day of sadness and reflection with many Greeks keeping vigil by the figure of the crucified Christ. Holy Friday follows with flags flying at half mast and there is a sense of sadness shared across all communities. In the evening the shrine representing Christ’s tomb is carried through the neighbourhood – part of a funeral procession made up of a silent congregation. When the shrine has been returned to the church, members of the congregation take flowers away with them. Holy Saturday sees a change of atmosphere as the forty days of fasting come to an end. Homes are filled with decorated candles and brightly wrapped gifts are exchanged. Later in the evening huge crowds will gather in churches across the country. Shortly before midnight lights will go out and bells begin to ring to mark Christ’s resurrection. This is followed by fireworks with the priest lighting candles held by members of the congregation to represent the ‘eternal’ flame. Soon after this there will be cries from the crowds of “Christos Anesti” – Christ has risen! The lit candles are then carefully carried home to mark a black cross with the smoke over the doorstep. This is an old tradition which is thought to bring both blessings and good luck to the home. Then the special Mayiritas soup will be eaten along with the red boiled eggs. More food and wine will be consumed – often well into the early hours of the morning. Easter Sunday sees people rising early to prepare the lamb or goat to be roasted on a spit. Traditionally the lamb is cooked along with the “Kokeretsi” a favoured Greek dish of wrapped seasoned lamb offal. Families and friends come together to enjoy a huge feast of barbecued meat . The evening is rounded off with music and singing to bring to an end the spirited celebrations of a traditional Greek Easter.
At Rainbow Fostering we like from time to time to focus upon the rich vein of cultural traditions our foster carers bring to our community. Fostering children is all about engaging with young people – inspiring them to take an interest in the world around them. An important part of the ethos here at Rainbow is to help our children and young people absorb and celebrate the richness of our vibrant multi-cultural society. Our carers bring so much by way of interest and ‘cultural’ colour to the lives of our children and young people
It is always particularly encouraging to get positive feedback from foster children themselves. So when we heard that two of our children just graded our carer Zainab 9.5 out of 10, we know things are going right. Congratulations to Zainab and our thanks to the children concerned for being so appreciative of the care they were given.