Celebrations - The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
On Crete, every year at the 15th of August, all the villages and communities celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. A nice occasion to visit again Lousakies. Coming from Kissamos toward Lousakies, we passing this village, following the road a bit further until the next village Zachariana. Here we bent right in direction to Astriagos, following a simple road, who bring us to the little shady chapel, located under a very old plane tree. The liturgy starts about 8 a clock in the morning, but it will be crowdie two long ours later. That means, as later, as longer – I mean the walk from your car to the chapel, because cars parking one behind the other beside the little asphalt road in the middle of fields. Everywhere standing small groups around the little church, some families have brought with them camping tables to give away salty anchovy, wine and bread.
The biggest crowd is in front of the church. Near the entrance put up the Holy Icon of this day – decorated with all the flowers, you can find in this season, and that means plenty of different flowers! Nearby stands a paper box with long, thin, honey-colored candles. Everyone takes as much as he like (at least one for the church and another for yourself). According to your means, you put some coins or notes for the candles into the other little box beside. After some time of waiting – there are so many people around! – you reach into the church, where the pope is praying all over the time – supported by a microphone in front of him and a singer at his side. Towards the end of the liturgy the pope starts to share with a little golden spoon the Holy Feeding, which is in a Holy Grail or chalice, how you like to name it. The feeding is made out of bread, honey and Holy Water. An assistant holds a read ribbon under my mouth, so it didn’t drop onto my cloth and he also cleans my lips afterward. I feel well treated and drift with the crowd to the back exit of the chapel, not without to light my candles and put them into one of the bronze candleholder. Some dignified old women are sitting on little plastic stools along the whitewash walls in the dark of the cooling church, watching their grandchildren who have pleasure because of all the burning candles in front of the icons.
After a while some helpers pile up big, circular breads (named: Artos, that means Holy Bread) on a table right in front of the church. The pope comes out of the church to bless the bread. Sometimes he pauses and exhorts the community to stop chatting. A hopeless try (and sure he knows), but for a moment there is really a bit more silence. But not for a long time, too many people have meet after a long period of time, have finally time free and there is plenty to talk about! The liturgy has reached its end, and basketfuls of blessed bread will be, cut into handy pieces, shared. The 3 our liturgy is over and everyone tuck in anchovy, bread and wine.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is one of the biggest celebrations and therefore the party don’t stop. Slowly the crowd in front of the church break up. Most of them walk to the nearby “Center”. There is a Holy spring and some shady plant trees around it, underneath set up long tables, where families sit together and order the “menu”: Souflaki from plastic dishes or vegetable soup. A glass of wine or a fresh cool coke is offered too. On top of a little wall sit a 4 head band, playing traditional melodies and songs. It is a happy celebration, because Mother God has reached, with “soma kai psychy” (means: body and soul), right into the paradise of God.