Greek Easter during the COVID-19 pandemic? The show must go on

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By Argyro Vourdoumpa

The last few days of the Holy week, just before Greek Easter, are my favourite ones. The smell of lit candle in the church, the colour of the violets that my yiayia and I used to decorate the ‘Epitaphio’ with and the emotion that the Greek Easter hymns always stir up, compile some of my sweet childhood memories.

Now as a mother of two and an immigrant myself, I strive to help my kids create memories tied to the family’s Greek language, traditions and culture and help them form their cultural identity, living indeed in two cultures, in two countries.

It’s not always easy and as the coronavirus spreads anxiety and panic across the globe, I could have easily skipped baking the koulourakia / tsoureki and dyed the red eggs.

I mean we have more important things to think about during a pandemic. Don’t we? We even need a tactical plan to get loo roll. Draining!

So, in these uncertain times I choose the resilience, solidarity and the back to basics path. This is what I want to teach my kids.

George and Ariadne making traditional Greek Easter cookies.  Source/ Argyro Vourdoumpa

You see, I was brought up hearing stories from my grandparents, about how they grew up in the years during and after World War Two and the Greek Civil War and how they survived eating potato peels. Yes, they went through hardship and they came out of it stronger.

If they survived the war, I think I – or even better we – can try to pull through this health crisis. Together.

I will embrace my family and the community to find support and give support. I will make more koulourakia and share them with friends who don’t have a community to turn to and I will support as many small businesses as I can.

I felt great pride the other day when I read this article on the Guardian about how Greece is beating coronavirus despite a decade of debt. And I believe Greek Communities around Australia are doing their best to support those on temporary visas, our elderly population and people in need.

For the first time Greek Orthodox Parishes across Australia, live stream services, to ensure the community can participate from the comfort of their own homes, due to the ‘social distancing’ restrictions.

Community radio stations, television and newspapers are joining forces with Australia’s broader Greek Community, to keep informing us despite their losses.

Our Greek school teachers are going online to pass on knowledge and on Greek community FB groups I see more messages of support and kindness than ever before.

I see Australians of Greek origin, supporting this country, our other home, with everything they have. We are resilient and our values have lasted during the course of history.

I want this pandemic to finish, but the solidarity must go on above and beyond the flattening of the curve. We owe it to the future generation.

Greece is wherever a Greek is. And wherever a Greek is, there is going to be koulourakia, tsoureki and a smile.

Even in the middle of a pandemic.

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