For Hellenes, our Greek Orthodox faith is something that we hold near and dear to our hearts, even for the least religious of us. Greece’s Modern History is intertwined with the Church, from the days of resistance for four centuries against the Ottoman Empire to being there to help assist with humanitarian aid in some of Greece’s darkest hours. It is no surprise then that Greeks take the Easter holiday so seriously both for its religious and cultural significance. Easter has been used throughout history as a sign of rebirth, a sign of better days to come in the season of the return of the sun after dreary, dark, and cold winters.
We all are emerging from a deary, dark, cold ‘winter’ in that the COVID-19 global health pandemic has cast an enormous cloud over our lives both directly and indirectly for just over two years. Easter this year feels and looks different than the holiday has since the virus became a part of our lives. Loved ones can congregate at home, assemble at church, and embrace one another, at last, once again. Indeed, all of these things are only possible due to the absolutely dizzying pace of scientific advancement that allowed vaccines to be created, tested, and distributed in record time. Much of that pioneering was spearheaded by Greeks at the very top of their field.
It seems that along with the Resurrection of Christ and the approach of the pandemic’s end, a new Greece seems to have risen, more resilient with stronger foundations and more hope for the future. At the end of the day that is what Easter calls upon us all to do, to put into practice the tenet that hope dies last, just as Christ’s faithful hoped and believed he would rise from the dead. Easter is a time where we can reflect on the blessings of life, something that in the age of smartphones is particularly difficult to do when instant gratification, bragging about one’s own circumstances, and superficial relationships are the story of the day. It’s imperative that as a society we fight back against becoming slaves to consumerism and engage our spiritual side just a little bit more to keep us safely moored in the modern world’s turbulent seas. With so much hate and evil seemingly proliferating around the world at alarming rates of growth, it is so important to rally one another around positive traditions of our culture and to celebrate one another, being thankful that we may spend important holidays with our loved ones, when so many cannot. Blessings be upon you and your loved ones, Kali Anastasi, Kalo Pascha!