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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 6 - “Soul Saturday.” In Greek, it's called [Ψυχοσάββατο]
The Saturday before Meatfare Sunday or in Greek [Κυριακή της Απόκρεω] is called “Soul Saturday.” It occurs during the second week of the Carnival. There’s also another Soul Saturday that takes place the day before Pentecost Sunday, or [Κυριακή της Πεντηκοστής]. These two Soul Saturdays are celebrated 57 days before and 48 days after Easter respectively, and are dedicated to the dead.
In this lesson, you will learn how the Greeks honor the dead on Soul Saturdays.
Do you know the meaning of the Greek proverb [«Κάνει μνημόσυνο με ξένα κόλλυβα.»], which means "He is having a memorial with boiled wheat from strangers"?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The Orthodox Church prays for the dead every Saturday in memory of Christ, who died during the Great and Holy Saturday, or in Greek [Μεγάλο Σάββατο]. Nevertheless, Soul Saturdays are used to honor those who, for whatever reason, died without having a memorial. A memorial in this case is a ceremony during which God is requested to forgive and allow those who have left us to rest in peace. Many on this day perform memorials for their passed relatives, and visit their graves to clean and take care of the tomb, leave flowers, burn incense, and light the vigil light.
Before the coming of Christianity, memorials were a custom of the ancient Greeks, who, with prayers, sacrifices and offerings, asked for forgiveness for the sins of the dead. Nowadays, memorials are performed in the following order. First, they are announced in the newspapers or on special printed announcements pinned up in the neighborhood where the deceased used to live. Afterwards, the [τρισάγιο], meaning the “thrice holy” prayer, is chanted over the grave of the dead by a priest, or alternately a special prayer is said in the church after the Divine Liturgy. At the end of the ceremony, boiled wheat or [κόλλυβα] is always given out to those present, which is sometimes followed by a reception.
Boiled wheat or [κόλλυβα] is a delicious dessert made of boiled wheat, pomegranate, nuts, raisins, cinnamon, and sometimes powdered sugar. Originally [κόλλυβα] was prepared in households, but nowadays it is usually bought from pastry shops or special workshops. The Christian custom of [κόλλυβα] is believed to have originated from the ancient Greek custom of offering the dead [πανσπερμία], which is a mixture of wheat and other nuts.
Trees are not to be cut down on Soul Saturday or the day preceding it in Greece, because it is believed that the souls of those who passed sit on them to watch over the living during this time. If a branch is cut, then the souls will fall down and complain!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know the meaning of the Greek proverb [κάνει μνημόσυνο με ξένα κόλλυβα], which means "He is having a memorial with boiled wheat from strangers"?
This proverb means that somebody is getting credit for and benefiting from the efforts of others. It is also often said in reference to someone who wants to appear generous, but goes about this by using the money of others!
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you have any similar traditions in your country?
Leave us your comments on GreekPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.

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Do you have similar traditions in your country?