Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eastern Orthodox Easter

So a quick little note here. I recently met a Serbian Orthodox man who, every year, is asked if he celebrates "Greek" Easter, or if he celebrates "normal" Easter. He gets insulted by that. Poor guy...
But just to clarify, it isn't a cultural thing. It is a religious holiday, the same for all Christians around the world. The Eastern Orthodox church follows the older Julian calender, while the rest of the Christians use the Gregorian calender. So sometimes (most of the time), our Easter falls on a different day then the rest of the Christian's Easter.

Okay, now let's get to the food!!!

I'm really sad b/c I forgot my camera in the kitchen at my house when I was making the cheesecake for dessert (see previous post). I used my mom's, so thankfully I had something, but I didn't get a chance to photograph all of the food. But the most important part... the lamb.

My dad was up at 6am (way early for him on a Sunday) after going to bed at 1:30am. I don't know why he went to bed so late, probably b/c he waited until the last second to fix the lamb for the morning. I'm not sure b/c I went to church at 10:45pm for the midnight service like a good little Orthodox Christian.

Anyways, my dad opens the chest and stomach to take out the organs inside for other uses. He then seasons the inside w/ salt, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil and parsley (all dried herbs) He breaks apart a couple of heads of garlic and puts the cloves in side. Then he cuts 3 lemons in half and tosses those inside.
Using kite string and a big fat needle, he sews the stomach and chest back together. The pole is then pushed through the lamb's body from the bottom, up to and through the mouth.
He then ties the head and legs close to the pole and body to keep it from falling apart.

This may sound evil, but my dad started the tradition of telling the real little ones that this was our dog, Shadow. I don't know, you tell me, does the picture above really look like my dog? My dog is way too fat. But he is a cute little monster, isn't he???
So it was rainy this Easter and my dad had to improvise on where to put the lamb. We've tried to do it in the garage w/ the door 3/4's open, but it made the house really smokey. So he got this canvas cover that was given to him to use on our boat, but he never used, so he brought it to yiayia's house for a little lamb tent.
He's so smart when he wants to be...
While the lamb was cooking outside, the women were cooking inside. My thea Mary was making the salad (you can tell she's got some experience in that, she how skinny she is??) I was keeping her company while my pasticio and potatoes & carrots were in the oven. Lee, her "should be a husband by now" boyfriend Lee was trying to take bite out of my neck b/c he was trying to be like Edward, the character from Twilight that we all love so much.
After everything was finished, we sat to eat. We didn't all fit at the table, so some of the boys sat on the couch, watching the game. Note the two bottles of wine... Those were the halfway empty ones that remained after the first 3 were polished off...
Yep, we're a Roditis household. Those 3 bottles were finished off right about when everyone started to eat. The two left over weren't Roditis, which was why there was so much of them left. :) That's me all the way to the left, then my cousin Marnie, then my sister Katie and another cousin Anthony.
Our very deep red eggs. My aunt made then this year, giving me and my mother a break. She used twice the amount of dye and vinegar, trying to get the brightest color possible. They ended up pretty slippery and you had to hold them w/ a napkin otherwise it bleed onto your hand!
The custom is to hit another person's egg w/ your own (or let them hit you) and the one who's egg doesn't crack, hits the next person. And so on and so on until only one person is left w/ an uncracked egg. My sister Katie, cousin Anthony and I all cracked three other people's eggs before ours broke. My dad was the last one standing, but he only hit two eggs. If he had hit 4, it probably would have cracked too. Anyways, you are supposed to keep your egg and you'll have good luck the rest of the year. I still have my winning egg from last year...

Lee's not Greek, so he likes to do things w/ his own flair. This was referred to as "egg-butting"
We had a lot of desserts, but I wasn't quick enough and they were gone before I could get pictures. There was a pan of fudge brownies and the cheesecake in my previous blog (there are pictures there). Below this is the pineapple-orange cake my mom makes. Nothing too exciting, it's a box mix orange cake (I prefer lemon-pineapple myself) w/ a drained can of crushed pineapple folded in before it's baked. I tried to make a glaze for it, but mom wouldn't let me. It would have been yummy though...

In this picture are some other Greek cookies, different than the ones I used to make the cheesecake. They are kourabedes (powdered sugar topped crumbly-type cookes) and koulouria (my fav, they're like a cookie that's good to dip in coffee or hot chocolate. Like a biscotti, but better and softer)
So Easter was exhausting this year, as usual, but it's my fav holiday, hands down!


Peter M said...

Niki, who in the family started eating the head? There's always someone! lol

I agree, Easter is my favourite celebratory day...Spring, the resurrection of Christ, the food, the family and friends....I can see all that is important to you and your family too!

Maria said...

Niki, I read your Easter post days ago and I could have sworn I'd commented but ... obviously I didn't!!
I just wanted to say Xristos Anesti kai xronia polla! Great post--I love, love, love reading about families enjoying hlidays like this and your family seems to have had a great time. The arnaki looks great--only a Greek would think pics of the head are cute!!

Ivy said...

Alithos Anesti Niki. They are right when they say that the Greeks or Diaspora keep the traditions more than we do. We also bbq in the garage although it wasn't raining. Are you the one behind the lady in yellow? If you are you look so much like a Cypriot American friend I had who used to live in New Jersey.

Passionate Eater said...

Thanks for sharing about your Easter and your holiday lamb (or "dog" story) traditions! Haha, my dad loves joking with the young ones too!

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Wow this looks like fun. I wish I had more Greek family! My dad and his brother and sister are only %50 Greek and they don't follow the Greek religion or cultures. (Well, my aunt makes yahni beans for thanksgiving, but that's about it lol). I want to start Greek traditions when I have my own family one day. :D