Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter bread and the number 8


Symbols for warding off the evil  influences and christian symbols play an important part in the Greek festive breads.  In parts of Greece, the early Christian tradition of number 8, symbol of Jesus resurrection,* survived in the Easter breads. However, today, its meaning has been almost forgotten.




8- shaped bread


2 k. flour
200 gr yeast
240 gr lightly warm water
1 tb honey
2 tsp salt
2tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp mahlep, toasted and ground
10 eggs lightly beaten
380 gr milk
 250 gr butter + 250 gr extra virgin olive oil
4 hard boiled egg, dyed red
Dissolve yeast in the water and add about 1/2 cup flour. Mix thoroughly, cover with a cloth and set in a warm place to rise for 2 hours.
Add the ingredients in the order they are listed. On a floured surface  knead the dough for 2-3 minutes and let rest for 2 hours. Knead again for 2-3 minutes until elastic and smooth.
Form 4 ropes and twist in the shape of 8. Place the breads on  greased baking sheets and allow to double in size. Brush  with beaten egg. Place the dyed eggs. Bake breads in preheated oven (175 C) for about 40 minutes or until golden brown.

*Jesus war raised on the day after the Sabbath, which is the 8th day.


Για Ελληνικά εδώ

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Magic rain and the wish for water

Rituals of Magical - Rain Making in Modern and Ancient Greece: A Comparative Approach
and From Modern Greek Carnivals to the Masks of Dionysos and other Divinities in Ancient Greece are two very interesting articles about the  Kalogeros (monk), a carnival ritual associated with something that is a deep concern in Greek  culture: magic rain and the wish for water:

Both of them are written by Evy Johanne Harland.




''On Cheese Monday, the Kalogeros, followed by other painted characters visit the houses of the village, and are treated with wine, ouzo, and food. The housewife sprinkles the Kalogeros with polysporia, a symbolic mixing of grains, through a sieve. As a counter gift, he swings with his “sceptre” in order to mix the grains
with water and earth, while wishing a lot of rain and a plentiful harvest. The Kalogeros plungs his “sceptre” with the cloth into puddles, soaks it with muddy water, and smears the celebrants with it. The aim of the  procession is to assure the rain and a plentiful harvest. When they have made the round of the village, they end up in front of the church, where the entire village is awaiting them. Here, a play, a parody of ploughing and sowing, begins: “May the water-melons grow as  big as the Queen’s breasts, may the maize grow as long as the King’s prick” – all the actors in the agricultural play join in the recitation. Simultaneously, they sow “polysporia”. Two men take the place of a pair of oxen, yoked to the plough, and everybody invokes the buried grain so it may come back to life again. The Kalogeros is the rain-maker, who symbolizes the forces of vegetation and the fertility of the earth. Babo also belongs to the ritual. This is a man dressed up as an old woman. Babo holds a cup with “holy water”, i.e. women’s spittle and a sprig of basil in “her” hands and “she” sprinkles the holy content on the male articipants. “Her” assistant holds “The Invincible Life’s Powers” in “her” or his hands. This is the male sex organ in the form of a lyre, to be deposited on the earth when it has been “ploughed” and “sown”. The assistant pretends to play, while “she” utters magical fertility formulas. In ancient and popular Greek, Babo or Baubō is a wet-nurse, and symbolizes nourishment.'' ( From Modern Greek Carnivals to the Masks of Dionysos and other Divinities in Ancient Greece, p.115-6)

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