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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 20 - Dormition of the Mother of God. In Greek, it's called [Κοίμηση της Θεοτόκου].
Every year on August 15, in the heart of the Greek summer, Greek people celebrate with special solemnity the "Dormition of the Mother of God," or [Κο ίμηση της Θεοτόκου] — in other words, the death of the Virgin Mary. This Marian holiday is an official public holiday and is a day of joy rather than mourning, because the Virgin Mary is thought to have been resurrected just like Jesus Christ. This is why it is also called the "Easter of Summer" or in Greek [το Πάσχα του καλοκαιριού].
In this lesson you will learn how Greeks celebrate this day.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Do you know who has their name day on August 15?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
According to the religious tradition, an angel told the Virgin Mary about her imminent death three days before it was to take place. Because of this, she prepared herself, gave away all of her belongings, and went to the Mount of Olives to pray. On the day of her death not all of the Apostles were in Jerusalem; however, a cloud took them up and brought them close to her. After she died, the Apostles carried and buried her remains in the garden of Gethsemane. Three days later the tomb was found to be empty, and the Virgin Mary resurrected.
Nowadays Greek people use the term [Δεκαπενταύγουστος] which means literally “Fifteen of August” to refer to this day. And since August is mainly a month of vacations and most Greeks are out of the cities, the celebrations on this day are especially intense in the islands and in the provinces. In Paros especially, a huge celebration is held: dozens of traditional fishing boats with lit torches fill up the small picturesque port of [Νάουσα].
The largest pilgrimage happens at the church of [Μεγαλόχαρη] in Tinos. There, thousands of faithful believers go up the paved road to the church. On the right of the path is a mat laid for those who go up on their knees as a votive offering to the Virgin Mary. If you visit there, you will see people with scrapes and bruises on their knees and tears in their eyes. You can see people whose strong faith helps them go on. The celebrations culminate in the majestic procession and litany of the miraculous Holy Icon of [Μεγαλόχαρη].
In [Markópoulo] of [Cephalonia], every August 15 at the dome of the church, the harmless "little snakes of the Virgin Mary" or [φιδάκια της Παναγίας] appear. It is believed that the Virgin Mary transformed local nuns into snakes, so that they could escape from pirates.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know who has their name day on August 15?
The most popular names are [Μαρία, Μάριος, Παναγιώτα, Παναγιώτης] and [Δέσποινα] – all names that are related to the Virgin Mary. "Maria" is by far the most popular female name in Greece, something that shows the deep respect Greeks have for the Virgin Mary.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
What would you want to do if you were to visit Greece on August 15?
Leave us your comments on GreekPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.