USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Greek Orthodox’
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Paschal Greeting – Greek Orthodox

“Because I’m Greek Orthodox, we have a service the night before Easter. What we do is, the priest turns off all the lights in the church and then we have candles. And we say ‘Christ has risen and truly he has risen’ in like eight different languages. ‘Khristos Anesti. Alithos Anesti. Christ has risen. Truly he has risen.’* and all these different forms of languages for about an hour and a half. It’s just a symbolized of I think inclusivity. We just wear our church clothes. Like my mom always says, ‘Dress as though you’re going to God’s house.’ Everyone is in more ‘happier’ colors since it’s Easter”

My informant is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. She is deeply connected to her church and still practices her religion faithfully. I thought it was interesting to hear how her family celebrates Easter because I personally am Presbyterian, which is a branch of Christianity. We only celebrate Palm Sunday and Good Friday prior to Easter. I have never heard of a celebration being held the night before Easter. This service is referred to as the Paschal Greeting in Greek Orthodox custom. I really liked the idea of chanting “Christ has risen and truly he has risen” in multiple languages as a representation of inclusivity. However, I will admit having to do that for an hour and half seems extremely tedious. My informant on the other hand seemed enthusiastic about the ritual, proving her patience and loyalty to God.

 

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Easter in the Greek Orthodox Church

“Okay, so, I’m Greek Orthodox, um, and there’s a number of, like, traditions in the Greek Orthodox church that, um, are not found in a lot of other Christian churches. Um, Greek Orthodox is very similar to Catholicism, um, maybe a litter stricter, um and on Easter… First of all Easter is not with the Western Calendar, um, they go off of a different calendar, um, and so their Easter is not, um, always the same Sunday as, um, regular Easter, I guess, or what most people think of… the Western Easter. Um, or the Easter found in most other Christianities. Um, and so it’s normally, like, 3 or 4 weeks after, sometimes it’s before, a couple times it’s, like, coincided, um, but so you– we have lent and everything, similar to Catholicism, um, but you’re not supposed to eat meat at all, there’s no meat at all, it’s not just a no-Friday thing, uh, and, um, so, during the week of— I guess during Holy Week, leading up to Easter you’re supposed to… So Easter is always on a Sunday. But the Orthodox Church does their Easter service on Saturday night and it’s normally at, like, ten o’clock Saturday night and it goes to about 12:30am, um, sometimes later, um, and afterwards at the Church there’s normally, like, a big feast. Because you haven’t eaten meat the whole time and you come at, you know, one o’clock in the morning and everyone’s eating and has the big, like, breakfast celebration. Um, and then the next day you’ll, like, get with your family and have another big, massive feast with a lot of meat, um, so that’s fun. And normally the services, like the Mass services, last at least two hours, um because its different in, like, Catholicism the, the priests have to, um, they prepare all the communion stuff beforehand, before everyone gets to mass. Um, in the Orthodox Church, they do it in front of you. So when you get there, you’re watching the priest set up and they have a lot of little, like, rituals they have to do um in order to prepare the communion, um, so that’s why it lasts so long. Partly because in the beginning, it’s just a lot of rituals and things like that and a lot of people come in, like, halfway through the service so it’s not uncommon to see people coming in like halfway through um and then normally the homily is a little longer than it would be in a, um, Catholic church.”

 

My informant is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, a faith she inherited from her mother’s family. My informant is well versed on the practices in the Catholic Church as she attended a Catholic high school. Her understanding of additional branches of Christianity can be contributed to her father’s Protestant faith. My informant feels most connected to the Greek Orthodox Church and remains connected to her faith, even on the USC campus.

As a student who also attended Catholic school, I find it interesting that religions who are very closely related belief-wise have so many differences in practice. The manifestation of faith is as diverse as the people who practice it.

 

The calendar that my informant was referring to is actually two calendars. The Greek Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar.

Read more about the calendar of the Orthodox church here:

http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7070

 

 

Rituals, festivals, holidays

Traditions in the Greek Orthodox Church

“When you, like, leave your shoes somewhere, if they are facing upwards… so the sole of your shoe is facing upwards, you have to go turn it over. Um, so it, as if—so the bottom of your shoe is the dirtiest part and you don’t want that facing up to face God. Um, so you always turn it back over so that the top of your shoe is facing upward. Um, even if it’s on the side, normally you’d flip it to the– flip it down, so that the bottom doesn’t face up. Um, other things like that….

You never cross your legs in Church. Um, I mean, like, possibly you can do your ankles if it’s- you’re just really uncomfortable, um, but normally you’d never, ever, really cross your legs. Men or women, can’t cross their legs. Um, it’s just a sign of respect, um, things like that.

Also, a lot of, it’s much more common now for any churches, you can kind of go in very casually dressed, um, maybe, you know, look a little nicer, but in the Orthodox church, you get dressed up every week. So you see a lot of people with heels, like women with heels, um, or nice dresses all the time. Um, if you don’t you kind of stick out. Um, you know the men always wear, like, a nice shirt and khakis and things like that, um, Sunday best definitely applies.

Um, and it’s different also with communion. Um, I know a lot of protestant churches don’t have communion every week, Catholic churches do, we do have communion every week, um, but its not, like, you don’t have to have a first communion for it, you don’t have to have, um, any sort of like training or preparation for it. Um, they’ll give it straight to, like, infants, um, and also it’s not grape juice, like a lot of churches use, it’s wine. Um, and there’s also a tradition, I don’t know if this is true in the Catholic Church or not, um, but if there’s any leftover wine, or communion, you can’t just get rid of it, um, you have to drink it. The priests always drink it, so in the back of the church it’s always a little funny to just watch the priest, like, chugging bottles of wine.”

 

My informant is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, a faith she inherited from her mother’s family. My informant is well versed on the practices in the Catholic Church as she attended a Catholic high school. All these small details are things my informant picked up from her mother and grandmother as she was growing up. She says that she is always aware of how shoes are lying on the floor, even in her college apartment. The rest of these details are only important when she is in church.

 

 

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