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The Great Lent
Η Μεγάλη Σαρακοστή

   The Great 40 day Lent, the Sarakosti, is actually 50 days of lent! Many-many years ago the lent used to be 40 days. That's how the name Sarakosti, which means 40 days, came along. The name stayed the same even though the length of the fasting period has changed. The Great Lent starts on Clean Monday and ends on Holy Saturday, after midnight. This is a time of church going and prayer for the orthodox Christians. There are different events that are celebrated in the church during the lent.

Ta Psihosavata - Ψυχοσάββατα

  Let's go back to the Apokries for a moment.
The last two Saturdays of the Apokries the church remembers the dead. They call them Psihosavata (Ψυχοσάββατα). The first Saturday of the Lent is the last of the Psihosavata, and also the celebration of Agion Theothoron (Αγίων Θεοδώρων). On these days in every house they make Koliva (κόλυβα). They bless the koliva at the church and they share it for the forgiveness of the souls. I forgot to mention that this last Saturday is the name day of Theodoros (Θεόδωρος) and Theodora (Θεοδώρα).

The Sunday of Orthodoxy - Η Κυριακή της Ορθοδοξίας

   This is the celebration of the triumph of Orthodoxy against the heretics lead by Arios (Άρειος).  

Heretismoi - Οι Χαιρετισμοί

   The first 5 Fridays of the Lent is the Heretismoi (salutations) to Panagia (Παναγία). The churches are filled  these days. The Church and the people salute the Virgin Mary by singing the Akathisto Eemno (Ακάθιστος ύμνος). Everybody is standing when they sing this hymn. That's why they call it Akathistos.

These are the most important events of the Great Lent before the Holy Week. The Greeks  treat this period with great respect and with the ending of this they can eat and drink again whatever they want to celebrate Easter.

Explanations of Words

  • τα Ψυχοσάββατα (psiho-SA-vata) = means the Saturdays for the souls.
  • τα κόλυβα (KO-liva) = Koliva is boiled wheat that is mixed with sugar and seeds from Indian apple - pomegranate.
  • η Παναγία (pana-GI-a) = the Virgin Mary.
  • ο Ακάθιστος ύμνος (a-KA-thistos EE-mnos) = Acathistus (unseated) Hymn.

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