Greek so the Easter Bunny isn't Coming til Later
Back on March 31st, while
most of your neighbors were biting the heads off of chocolate bunnies, you were
just celebrating another Sunday, probably wondering why there seemed to be less
people out on Friday and Saturday night. If you were smart, you went to the
grocery store the next day, knowing that half-price marshmallow-based candy
would survive for over a month until it was your turn to celebrate Easter. If
you happened to be fasting from both meat and dairy, you probably weren't able
to enjoy anything chocolate-covered or containing egg whites, so your temptation
to ignore the fact that you had nothing to celebrate may be the reason that the
Easter candy is still in the pantry.
If this sounds even remotely familiar to you, guess what, you're Greek Orthodox
and Pascha is on May 5th this year. Sure your ignorant neighbors may think that
your backyard family picnic, complete with roast lamb on a spit, is some Cinco
De Mayo fiesta, but you should remind them that you're not Mexican and it's just
a coincidence that Easter and an excuse to drink XX or Corona happen to fall on
the same day this year.
We remember growing up and seeing the looks on the neighbors faces when they'd see us hunting for Easter eggs, sometimes one week, two weeks, or even a month after they'd forgotten where they'd hidden theirs. Later in college, these stares were replaced with the confused looks of our friends wondering why we and the rest of our Greek friends were dressed up on a successive Friday and Saturday night toward the end of the spring semester but not going to some fraternity or sorority function. It's difficult sometimes explaining to a non-Greek why you're celebrating Easter long after their opened packages of marshmallow peeps have hardened. There are plenty of people in this country who don't recognize the fact that Greeks are Christians without having to confuse them further by explaining to them the reason why Greeks and other Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter more often than not on a different day. (On a side note, didn't you just love the kids you grew up with who thought you and your family still worshiped Zeus or Poseidon? Didn't you just wish at that time that these mythological deities really did exist and that they could send down your choice of either lightening bolt or trident to smote these idiots where the sun don't shine.)
If non-Greeks have a hard time dealing with the timing of our Easter, have you ever tried explaining to them the concept of fasting? According to the teachings of the Church, your friends shouldn't really even know that you're fasting, because its not something you should be advertising or worse, complaining about to them. But they usually figure it out on their own. They realize that something's up when you stop wanting to go to your local diner or favorite all-night breakfast establishment because there really isn't anything you can eat there. It's even worse if you've decided to also give up alcohol, because you've probably spent about seven weekends or so being their designated driver. You've almost got to tell them you're fasting, especially if you're a guy, because your friends are going to think less of you for ordering a veggie burger, or worse a salad, when hanging out with them.
Lent poses a Catch-22 of sorts for most Greek-Americans. The easiest way to avoid these long-winded explanations to your American friends would be to avoid them for 40 some odd days and surround yourself exclusively with your fellow Greek Orthodox. But then the Church says that you really shouldn't be partying during this period, so most Greek events shut down, and thus you don't even get the chance to hang out with your Greek friends as much as you'd like. And even the Greek events that do happen during Lent often don't seem as fun when either you or those around you aren't drinking. Is it any wonder that the Greek Night bashing on this website has coincided with Lent? It'll be interesting after Easter to see if a combination of more protein and more alcohol puts people in a better mood.
With that said, it's time to relax and know that Pascha is just around the corner and that soon you'll be in church late on Good Friday and Holy Saturday seeing all those people you haven't seen since Christmas or since last Easter.
past feature articles.