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A celebration for Mary - the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos

The plateia is quiet now, after the lunchtime rush. Whole parties of families gathered in the village tavernas and locals celebrated around big tables in their gardens.
Today is one of the most sacred days in the Greek Orthodox calendar, marking the Dormition of the Theotokos or the 'falling asleep' of the Virgin Mary. The feast commemorates the end of her earthly life and her miraculous assumption into heaven.

It is the name day for Marias, Marios, Panagoitis and Despinas, and a public holiday in Greece.

Last night, as we have done for several years, we walked in the procession through the village from church to church to church, ending at the cemetery high up on the hill. I lit a candle for my own family's Mary and paused to remember her.
Outside, the graves glowed in candlelight.
Back down in the village and into the plateia, the lovely white-haired Maria dragged me in to collect a bunch of basil, the herb that is said to have grown at the base of Jesus Christ's cr…

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