Monday, 28 April 2008

Happy Orthodox Easter

Apart from the well-sung London services, our Easter a month ago was something of a washout, so we were happy to partake of a real spring - just after the heatwave produced by the Hamsin wind had sent temperatures soaring to 39 degrees - in Cypriot Anoyira, where our middle-east-based friends Juliette and Rory have done up a house to perfection.

There are lots of Brits living in the village, but it was good to see so many Greek Cypriots turning out in force to celebrate Orthodox Easter. The services, accompanied by chant which sounds almost indistinguishable from the muezzin cries of Northern Nicosia, go on for hours, so we restless visitors turned up for the two big events - the Good Friday procession of the Epitaphios or flower-covered icon representing Christ's funeral bier around the nearby streets, and the lighting of candles to celebrate Easter on the turn between Saturday and Sunday. Here is the much-admired local papa, a wall-builder by trade, walking behind a group of standard-bearing children with his beautifully-bound Easter hymnal and accompanied by chanting village elders:

And here's the Midnight festival of light. First the candles are lit inside the church, following the 'Christos Anesti' - 'Aleithos Anesti' ('Christ is risen' - 'Truly he is risen'):

Then the priest comes to the west door of the church amid further 'Kyrie eleisons':

And the villagers in all their Easter finery stand around a table on which are placed the sacred icon and the book:

It's a wonderful occasion, though I preferred the Good Friday procession to the Easter merrymaking on account of the firecrackers let off by the local youth around the bonfire, on which they burn an effigy of Judas Iscariot.

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