Early April Easter Makes for Packed Greek Calendar
April 9, 2007
Orthodox Easter in early April has a way of throwing things out of whack. While itís convenient to have it on the same day as everyone else for a change, thereís something to be said about having some time between Greek Independence Day, Palm Sunday and Easter, which this year fell on three successive Sundays. Finding a balance between our everyday routines as Greek-Americans in DC and these special occasions seemed especially difficult this year making us miss a later Easter.
Two weeks ago we were celebrating Greek Independence Day at the Parade in Greektown in Baltimore. This was the first time in recent memory that the Parade was actually held on March 25th or even on the same weekend, and the best weather that the parade had probably ever enjoyed Ė 70 degrees and sunny. There was a great turnout of spectators spanning over five blocks in Greektown to watch a collection of churches, AHEPA Chapters, Greek regional societies (Baltimore has some societies from parts of Greece that donít regularly come to mind) and other Greek groups from across the Mid-Atlantic region, with some other parade-seasoned non-Greek groups adding much needed spectacle and volume to the festivities. (There was a Chinese group using the parade as a tune up to the upcoming Cherry Blossom Festival.)
Those who didnít make it up to the Parade had the traditional Greek Independence Day options in DC to choose from that day, the annual reception at the Greek Embassy and the Prometheas sponsored event at St. George in Bethesda. Later in the week, there was the Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day on Capitol Hill. Two of the three newest Greek-American members of Congress, Gus Bilirakis of Florida, and Zack Space of Ohio made brief appearances before Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis arrived and said a few words on the occasion of Greek Independence Day. It was surprising to see just how many Greeks young adults work on the Hill in various positions for both Greek and non-Greeks alike.
Fast forwarding to Holy Week, we always wonder if Eastern and Western Easter coinciding has an effect in increasing attendance amongst Greek-American young adults because Palm Sunday and the services from Wednesday through Saturday night were packed. Those of us in the DC area are used to bad weather on Good Friday even when Easter is in May with rain and wind and sometimes cold weather, but anyone who went outside for the Epitaphio this year was met with almost freezing temperatures. (There was snow on the ground on Saturday morning.) The temperatures were even worse on Saturday night, changing the typical social hour that occurs outside most churches around 12:15, as most everyone rushed to their cars hoping the wind didnít blow out their candles, instead of hanging out and catching up with those they only see twice a year.