Easter is always a special time for us…which is why we like to try and stay in town through Easter each year. With it being so late in the year this time we almost did not stay this year, but glad we did. It essentially started for us on Thursday. My last post talked about having breakfast with Cousin Mary…but that night we had dinner at Mama Maria’s, our favorite Greek Restaurant, with another cousin of sorts, Ginger. It has been nice for me to get to know Ginger better this winter…her husband, who is a cousin of Marcia’s, passed away in November from cancer. We felt blessed to make it home to see him before he passed…and we have had dinner with Ginger a number of times this winter. Anyway, at Mama’s the waitress Marie, Greek Orthodox as is Ginger and as was Marcia, talked about how she is sick and tired of eating beans. You see, for 40 days the Greek Orthodox observe a very strict fast…many call it the “Great Fast”, because it last so long. Here is a quick breakdown of the fast as found on the Internet:
Week before Lent ("Cheesefare Week"): Meat and other animal products are prohibited, but eggs and dairy products are permitted, even on Wednesday and Friday.
First Week of Lent: Only two full meals are eaten during the first five days, on Wednesday and Friday after the Presanctified Liturgy. Nothing is eaten from Monday morning until Wednesday evening, the longest time without food in the Church year. (Few laymen keep these rules in their fullness). For the Wednesday and Friday meals, as for all weekdays in Lent, meat and animal products, fish, dairy products, wine and oil are avoided. On Saturday of the first week, the usual rule for Lenten Saturdays begins (see below).
Weekdays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: The strict fasting rule is kept every day: avoidance of meat, meat products, fish, eggs, dairy, wine and oil.
Saturdays and Sundays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: Wine and oil are permitted; otherwise the strict fasting rule is kept.
Holy Week: The Thursday evening meal is ideally the last meal taken until Pascha. At this meal, wine and oil are permitted. The Fast of Great and Holy Friday is the strictest fast day of the year: even those who have not kept a strict Lenten fast are strongly urged not to eat on this day. After St. Basil's Liturgy on Holy Saturday, a little wine and fruit may be taken for sustenance. The fast is sometimes broken on Saturday night after Resurrection Matins, or, at the latest, after the Divine Liturgy on Pascha.
The restaurant was pretty quiet, and Marie (Waitress) had a good moment to converse with us. Oh she was just DYING for a steak, and she said that at 12:01 am Sunday morning she was going to cook herself the biggest steak. “I told my ma to get me the biggest steak at Sam’s Club, nothing else…just the Steak. I am going to cook it myself because if I let her cook it, it would be too well done.” She also talked about when she was a young child how she had a pet lamb for a week…she loved the little lamb…which mysteriously disappeared over Easter Weekend. “Must have got loose and ran away” her parents said. Marie said it wasn’t until many years later that she realized that the lamb did not run away… We all had an enjoyable chat with Marie, and about the lent, and at 7:30 when we left, we were about the only ones in there at that point.
During the rest of the weekend we were busy getting things ready for the trip. On Friday we attended a great Good Friday church service, and on Sunday, of course, we went to the Easter Service. The church was packed! And granddaughter Allisa, who came to visit us a little over a week ago, drove over from east Tampa area just to say goodbye. After church we got Bubba, drove the motorhome over to the RV park nearby us, and then got dinner ready. Kind of a tradition for us to have lamb chops for Easter. Marcia’s son John, who we had lunch with on Saturday, was invited over for lamb chops which, unfortunately, some needed about 2-3 more minutes on the grill. Oh well, you can always add fire, you can’t take it away if you over cook them.
Monday we head out…staying at a Cracker Barrel or a rest area the first night. Still lots to do to get ready…