Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Celebrating St Spyridon's Day in Corfu

Outside the Church of St Spyridon, it is standing room only. The devoted and curious push their way in to see and hear and smell the splendour of the service in the golden, candelit interior.
Nearly all the shops and businesses are closed as islanders mark St Spyridon's Day, when Corfu's patron saint is celebrated and Spiros and Spirodoulas across Greece enjoy name-day parties and buy drinks for all their friends.
It is a special day too for the small gift shops next to the church where the saint's relics are kept in a highly decorated casket.

They are busy selling candles and icons and worry beads. Stalls nearby, manned by minor holy men, receive a steady trickle of customers while the doughnuts stands do a roaring trade.

At the main entrance to the church, a beautiful beggar woman and her two children are handed bread torn off from rolls given to the congregation.
The children gorge on plastic cups filled with pine nuts, sultanas, walnuts, sesame seeds and pomegranate.
The street is strewn with bay leaves. A woman in sunglasses and fur jacket walks arm in arm with a man in a dark overcoat, talking to the family on his mobile phone.

A man in a Santa hat and an old lady with a headscarf loiter around the door to the saint's shrine, hoping to get in as the VIPs come out.

The priest's song inside the church is amplified to the people outside who are buying candles for the dead and lottery tickets for themselves.

Bells clang as the service comes to an end and those lucky enough to have squeezed inside spill out of the main entrance.

The beggar woman is given a disdainful look by a policeman who is smoking a long cigarette, but he tolerates her until his senior officer, a handsome man in dashing uniform, tells him to move her and the children on.

A swish of black robe, a long black-grey beard. A priest walks by and hands the children some sweets.
For the pigeons, it's just another day.
That's about it.

Love Maddie x


  1. Lovely account. I've linked it on my blog.

  2. I so enjoy your descriptive images and your wonderful pictures, I always feel that I am right there with you experiencing it all. I look forward to your book.


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