easterMore than just the opportunity for a post-Lenten blow-out, Easter is also a time of νόστος, homecoming, for exiles returning to celebrate with family, and for visitors lucky enough to be in Greece to join in. With the Skopelos paralia humming with visitors, Greek and otherwise, we thought we would reprise a golden oldie outlining events over the next few days, penned by Daphne in 2012.

The celebration of Easter in Greece is the most important date in the Greek calendar, for the religious and non-religious alike. On Thursday families, particularly children, paint the Easter eggs with a safe vegetable dye. Most eggs will be painted red to represent the blood of Christ. They are also decorated with leaf motifs and other designs to celebrate the arrival of spring. You can buy many dye colours in the supermarkets, mainly blue, green, red and yellow, and also motif stencils. You should boil the eggs and let them get cold before painting them.

On Thursday night at midnight Skopelitan women of all ages go to the four main churches to decorate the Epitaphio, the bier that represents the body of Jesus. Decorating the bier is almost like a competition and the work traditionally takes until the early hours of Friday morning.

Friday evening
On the night of Megali Paraskevi (Good Friday), the four main churches of Skopelos town, Christos (near the castle), Agios Jannis, Papameletiou and Pandelemona, will display the Epitaphio with the most attractive flower arrangements. The design and colour of these arrangements are always kept secret.

The first procession starts around 9pm, moving down through the town with the first Epitaphio, collecting the second group at the next church. They continue on together, singing and holding their candles, proceeding through the streets to the next church and then moving on again. To find the Christos church, walk along the harbour to the Platanos Jazz Bar, where steps lead up to the church. You will get to the church square in a few minutes. Bring a brown/yellow candle, not too big.

Everybody walks through the narrow streets with candles, singing old hymns until they reach the waterfront and then they walk back up to the churches again. Many people stay down and have a drink afterwards. Everybody dresses in their finest.

On Saturday
After the ceremony Skopelitans go home and eat the special Easter ‘mageritsa’ soup (see below). There are also tavernas open who will have prepared their own mageritsa.

Earlier on the Saturday, the Orthodox Patriarch of Greece will have broken the seal of the door of the tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and emerged with the Holy Fire.

The flame is then flown by Olympic Airways, accompanied by high-ranking priests and government officials, to Athens airport, where it is met by an honour guard and taken to the small church of Agia Anargyroi in the Plaka district. From there, the light is distributed to churches all over Attika and throughout the rest of Greece.

As midnight approaches on the Saturday evening, people congregate at their churches, carrying unlit candles. You can go to any of the four churches in Skopelos before midnight to watch this most important celebration of the Greek Orthodox calendar. You are supposed to wear brighter colours this evening and most children will have a candle decorated with a toy, traditionally given to them by their godparents. At midnight, the priest open the church doors and announces the Resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ (“Christos anesti”) and shares the Holy Flame from Christ’s nativity cave in Jerusalem with the people outside, who confirm the declaration with “Alithos, Christos anesti” (“Truly, Christ has arisen”) as they share the flame. If you get the flame back to your home alight it is meant to bring good luck for the rest of the year.

After the late-night resurrection service of the Greek Orthodox Church, resurrection soup, or ‘mageritsa’, a soup or stew of sheep offal and vegetables, is served to the congregation or has been prepared earlier at home. On Easter Sunday, spit-roast lamb is the centrepiece of the table in family homes and at many restaurants. In the early morning, the spits will be turning in the courtyards and outside country homes (kalivis) across Skopelos and the rest of Greece.

Source : Easter in Greece

Some supermarkets and most butchers will be open all of Saturday and Sunday morning. Almost everything, including banks etc., will be closed on Monday.

We also have an early warning that this Sunday’s Skopelos Scramblers expedition will be heading for Panormos beach, where at least one restaurant will be roasting goat. We understand that the exercise-averse will be taking motorised transport to partake of the repast. More news on that when the carrier pigeon arrives from Scrambler HQ.

Suitable for all audiences version

Suitable for all audiences version

[photos will enlarge]
While stumbling home at 01:00 Sunday morning we passed these figures illuminated only by the moon. Not having a camera on hand and, if we did, most likely we’d be incapable of focusing, we vowed to return, with camera, at first light. We’ll bet you are glad we did.

PG-17 version

PG-17 version

kaniggos1905The eagle-eyed Mike pigeon posts us an intriguing find on the net: a French postcard of Plateia Kaningos, departure point for anyone taking the bus to Agios Konstantinos for the ferry here (nowadays, that is…), circa 1905. The year was epochal: the modern city, then barely sixty years old, was about to acquire electric street lighting and overhead cabling for trams, although the first over/underground rail line, the Number 1 between Piraeus and Thiseio, had been running since the late 1860s. The scene above would appear to be the intersection between Akadimias and Tziortz (George) streets, which would place the neighbouring Omonia to the left beyond the larger tree. At the time, Omonia looked like a village green out of Trumpton. You can see more vintage modernism at the emeiskaiemeis-nikos.blogspot and esoterica.gr websites.

We hope that bloke on the corner finally got his bus…

[photos will enlarge]

“Well the roof is leakin’ and the rain’s fallin’ on my head – drip, drip, drippity drop…”
To paraphrase the 1958 Lieber/Stoller song by The Drifters, the Troulos (dome) of the little church of Agion Panton was leaking and needed work. In fact, the church in Aloupi near the cemetery and the fountain needed new concrete and a full set of fresh plakas.

The problem was not so much who could do the work, but whether the “mastoras” could adhere to, or better the original weird dome structure.
The photo from two years ago shows the problem facing the roofer. The form of the old dome was neither a hemisphere nor a section of a perfect ellipse. The form is more like the “sharp” end of a chicken’s egg.

old dome

old dome

Circle-ellipse-chicken egg

Circle-ellipse-chicken egg

We tried to follow master builder Christos Ambelakias as he attempted to solve the problem.
Probably the first step was thinking about the project long and hard, making calculations, and talking to other roofers about the work ahead.

Next was to order materials and to build an elaborate scaffold to allow the easier movement of materials to the church roof.
Then, the removal of the old plaka stones and the “laspi” that was securing the stones to the understructure.
Ag. Pandon day 1

A new coat οf tsimentokovonia (fine concrete) to seal the dome and provide a base for new mortar.

spy photo - new concrete base

spy photo – new concrete base

After the new mortar had set and had been covered for the night in case of rain, the construction of the new surface started with the application of a row of fresh stones around the base.

At some time Mr. Christos had made, from insulation foam board, a “form” (kaloupi) of the line of the dome that he wanted. We are not sure what calculations he used to design the “form” but it would be an essential tool in the rebuilding of the dome.


Working from bottom to top and using the form to guide him, Mr. Christos chipped and shaped the new stones with his stonemason’s hammer and applied them to the roof.

This work continued for one week but did not include the builder’s strike last Wednesday.
Finally, with all the stones in place, the crown was sealed with a final application of concrete.

Finished !


old and new

old and new

The Scramblers enjoy what looks like a remarkably abstemious lunch at the Pavlos taverna, recently voted favourite Agnontas taverna by Guardian readers

The Scramblers enjoy what looks like a remarkably abstemious lunch at the Pavlos taverna, recently voted favourite Agnontas taverna by Guardian readers

As promised last week, the Skopelos Scramblers had lunch on a nearly deserted Agnontas beach on Sunday. This was after a walk of just over 8km, beginning at the heliport gates and skirting the beautiful Amarantos coves, missing the Mamma Mia! sailboat by a good few years! Does anyone know why Jim has a tastefully tied scarf on his head? [He's an Al Qaeda jihadist 'sleeper'? - Ed.]
The Scramblers rest above Amarantos (note that here Muriel appears to be sporting the Al Qaeda scarf...)

The Scramblers rest above Amarantos (note that here Muriel appears to be sporting the Al Qaeda scarf…)

Sunday 12 April
The Palm Sunday walk will also end up on a deserted beach, this time on the other side of the island, at Glisteri. The seating might not be quite as luxurious: stony sand, but the food, one of the Scramblers’ famous picnics, should be delightful. They will meet at 10.30am at the top of the ring road above the Kastro car park, towards the Rachies junction overlooking Glifoneri beach. They will park here and make their way along the tarmac road to take the path through the undergrowth to the well, if the path is reported reasonably clear. At any rate they will get to Glisteri beach and their picnic, swimming a distinct possibility.

Everyone is welcome to join the Scramblers on their walks. Phone Muriel Dunlop on 24240 24732 for details.


Next week is Holy Week. Anyone who wants to experience Greek Easter can make a visit to one of the big churches (Papameletiou, Faneromeni and Christos) in Skopelos town and follow part of the ceremony. The ceremonies usually start early evening. This Saturday is Lazarus Saturday. Sunday is Palm Sunday, a big ceremony in all churches will start around 8.30 in the morning. Next week is Holy Week. Holy Friday there is the procession in Skopelos town going from church to church. On Holy Saturday at midnight, Easter starts with the ringing of all church bells, and fireworks.



This Saturday at 9.30am The Sporades Centre (located across from the Glossa Elin petrol station), in partnership with the middle school, will conduct a training seminar on how to work with stone.
The programme includes:
• Lazaros Carols – song by Glossa children;
• Talk and short film: stone architecture – by Mihalis Proios and Marc Held;
• Stonemasonry demonstration: Kοstas Polyhroniou will build a stone arch.

Everyone is invited.

[Will rocks be provided, or do attendees bring their own? - Ed.]


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