Sunday, 11 August 2013

Corfu: party time for the Virgin Mary and St Spyridon

At this time of year, there are festivals going on all over Greece. They might not be as extravagant as in previous years because of the economic crisis. Some have been cancelled altogether because of the hard times facing the country and its people.

But there is one festival that, however bad things are, will be celebrated everywhere.

We are now in the lead-up to the feast day of the Dormition of the Theotokos on 15 August, which is the best time in Corfu, according to our local shopkeeper.

It's certainly one of the busiest,with people bustling in and around Corfu Town and the beautiful Liston. But if you look up, you could imagine you were completely alone. Try it - it's something I do all the time.
It's also a busy time for the island's patron saint, Spyridon. Today saw the commemoration of his defence of the island against the Turks in 1716. Marching bands and a procession bearing his glorious casket and body around the town.

As we have little people currently staying with us, we gave today's parade a miss. Instead, we went to the beach, with a host of other people of all nationalities. Still, we had plenty of room and lots of sea to swim in.
During the week, the village has been very obliging in entertaining our visitors.

You have to rely on posters on telegraph poles or lengths of sheet on the side of the road to know what's going on.
They even advertise funerals here with just a day's notice. As a friend says be careful to keep looking, because you might miss your own funeral.

Underneath old posters advertising a band in a bar at Paleokastritsa or a frog festival in Skripero are notices telling you that someone's died. The posters never get taken down. But when someone like me comes along, who has an aversion to out-of-date information and an inbred hatred of litter and disrespect, I find the pole is embedded with staples.
But we know what's happening here because we have a telegraph pole right outside our house to let us know what's occurring.
The night before last it was traditional folk music. We sloped off at about eleven o'clock but the last to leave were apparently there until four.
Some of it felt very pagan, outside the front door of the church.
Like some sort of ancient magic was at work.

Zeus knows how late we'll stay up at the big festival on Thursday.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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