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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Greece Series at GreekPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Greek holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 11- Great and Holy Friday. In Greek, it's called [Μεγάλη Παρασκευή].
Two days before Easter, the Great and Holy Friday is celebrated. This is a public holiday of absolute fast, dedicated to the Passion and the Crucifixion of Christ or [τα Πάθη και η Σταύρωση του Χριστού]. On this day, church bells are rung mournfully, and a solemn atmosphere pervades, particularly during the procession of the Bier of Christ, which takes place that evening.
In this lesson, we will take a look at the customs that are performed all over Greece on the day of the Great and Holy Friday.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What type of flowers are used by the women who decorate the Bier of Christ, or in Greek [Επιτάφιος]?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
On the morning of Great and Holy Friday, a liturgy is held, where women mourn for Christ. Following this, there is the Deposition of Christ, called [αποκαθήλωση του Εσταυρωμένου], in which the priest takes Christ off the cross, wraps Him with a clean sheet and places Him into the Holy Bier, which was prepared the night before. On the night of Great and Holy Friday, Christians flock to the temples to kiss and kowtow to the Bier of Christ, which involves kneeling and touching one’s forehead to the ground in an act of respect. Afterwards, the procession of the Bier takes place on the streets of the town or village, within the limits of each parish.
This procession is a cortege where the Cross with Cherubim leads, followed by the Bier of Christ, the priests, the Myrrh-bearers, and finally members of the congregation holding lit candles and chanting throughout the course of the litany. In the cities, you will often find bands playing funeral marches preceding the Bier of Christ. Along the way, Christians shower the Bier of Christ with flowers and perfumes.
Before and sometimes during the procession of the Bier of Christ, short hymns are chanted. These hymns are Eulogies or [Εγκώμια], and are an important aspect of Great and Holy Friday. The most well-known of these are [Ἡ ζωή ἐν τάφω…], which means “Life in the grave”, [Ἄξιον ἐστὶ…] meaning “It is worthy”, [Αἵ γενεαί πᾶσαι…], or “All the generations” and [Ὦ γλυκύ μου ἔαρ…] meaning “Oh my sweet Spring”. As you can tell from their titles, these short hymns are written in the Greek of the Hellenistic period, which is simpler than the ancient Greek of the Classical period, but richer in vocabulary.
In many regions, during the procession of the Bier of Christ, an effigy of Judas is burned. This effigy is made using burlaps, old clothes, and wood, which housewives provide throughout Holy week.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What type of flowers are used by the women who decorate the Bier of Christ?
These women use spring flowers, such as violets [βιολέτες], roses [τριαντάφυλλα], and lemon blossoms [λεμονανθοί], which are braided into wreaths and garlands. The flowers of the Bier of Christ are considered to be blessed, which is why members of the congregation take them as they kowtow, and later place them in the icon corner of their house.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Have you ever seen the procession of the Bier of Christ live?
Leave us your comments on GreekPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.

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GreekPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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Have you ever seen the procession of the Bier of Christ live?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 11:04 PM
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Hi Mary Ann,


Thank you very much for your active comment.

You have right about the meaning of the word 'Παρασκευή'. Please remember that the modern greek verb meaning 'to prepare' is 'παρασκευάζω' [paraskevázo].


All the best,

Nektarios

Team GreekPod.com

GreekPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 10:55 PM
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Hey Elisabeth,


Παρασκευή [Paraskeví] means literally "Preparation", and as Mary Anna mentioned correctly Paraskevi is the day of preparation for the Sabbath, i.e. Friday.

ex. παρασκευή παγωτού [paraskeví pagotú] = ice cream preparation

Please keep also in mind that Παρασκευή is a female given name.


If you have any other question, please let us know.


All the best,

Nektarios

Team GreekPod101.com

Mary Ann Hetzer
Thursday at 06:18 PM
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Hi Elizabeth,

The Greek word for Friday comes from the verb παρασκεύω, which means to prepare. Friday was the day of preparation for the Jewish Sabbath (σάββατο). Hope that helps! 😞

Elisabeth
Thursday at 03:23 PM
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What is the meaning of Paraskevi (except Friday). I remember the other days of the week in Greek, but I always forget Friday. Maybe it would be easier if I knew the origin of the word (like in English it means the Norse god Frey’s day)

GreekPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 01:01 PM
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Γεια σου Mary Ann,


Ήταν μόνο μικρά λαθάκια! Μην ανησυχείς:smile:, δεν είναι ανάγκη να γίνεις κατακόκκινη!

Να έχεις κι εσύ μια ωραία μέρα!


Στεφανία

Team GreekPod101.com

Mary Ann
Saturday at 09:53 PM
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Γεια σου Στεφανία! Ευχαριστώ για την απάνταση και για τις διορθώσεις - έχω γίνει κατακόκκινη που έκανα τόσα λάθη! Σου εύχομαι μια ωραία ημέρα!

Thank you for the answer and for the corrections - I am blushing because I made so many mistakes!

I wish you a nice day!

GreekPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 12:38 PM
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Γεια σου Mary Ann,


ναι, είναι «με την ίδια μελωδία»! Επίσης: «...τα εγκώμια..... τα ψάλλουμε».


Thank you also for your suggestion. I agree with you and I would change "kowtow" to "prostrate," if only the audio didn't have "kowtow" as well:disappointed:. Since I can't change the audio, I'm afraid I'll have to leave the lesson transcript and lesson notes as they are.


But thank you again for suggesting this.


Kind regards,


Stefania

Team GreekPod101.com

Mary Ann
Thursday at 04:59 AM
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"Με την ίδια μελωδία" - έτσι είναι σωστά?

Mary Ann
Thursday at 04:52 AM
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Μου αρέσουν οι εγκώμια της Μεγάλης Παρασκευής πάρα πολύ. Στην εκκλησία μας τις ψάλλουμε στα ρουμανικά, αλλά με το ίδιο μελωδία. I love the Lamentations on Great and Holy Friday. In our church we sing them in Romanian, but to the same melody.


By the way, would you consider changing the translation of "προσκυνώ" to "prostrate"? "Kowtow" sounds rather inappropriate in this context.