Things have been picking up a bit of late. The clock is ticking and I’m realizing that some things are now or never. I’ve spent the last two weekends visiting friends in other cities, visits that I had been saving for some “future date”. Both visits were excellent. Great to see friends and also nice to take a break from the village.
Last Sunday we were walking in Kutaisi and I was noticing that many people were carrying little bundles of branches. It took me awhile to put it together, but then it came to me and I exclaimed out loud “Palm Sunday!” I’d totally forgotten. Not a lot of palms in Georgia so it appears that they substitute some other locally-available tree. Industrious people everywhere were selling “palms”, including robed altar boys outside one of the larger churches. This Palm Sunday joined the ranks of some other memorable Palm Sundays. (Jenn?)
Aghdgoma, Easter, is this coming Sunday, as I’m sure you all know. There is a very nice vacation padding Easter in Georgia, with no school the Thursday and Friday before it and the Monday, Tuesday after it. Man, which we had that in the States. It is truly an ideal time to take a trip somewhere and I think the vast majority of teachers will be going somewhere. However, as I missed Christmas, New Year’s and Three Kings’ Day, I really wanted to be in the village for Easter. So I am taking a trip for Wednesday through Saturday and will be back in time for Sunday.
My friend Jason and I will be going to the largest city on the coast, Batumi, which has a rep for being the most Westernized, resort-like place in Georgia. This really isn’t the best time to go weather-wise, but I can’t imagine staying the village for that many days with nothing to do. And I’ve wanted to see the Black Sea since I arrived. I know I’m invited on a school excursion to Batumi in June, but that will likely be a rather structured trip where I will not be free to do what I want. So if nothing else, this trip should be relaxing. I’m really hoping we get at least a little bit of sun.
In talking with my host family and students, the number of traditions surrounding Easter continues to surprise me. There is egg dying, but all eggs are dyed red. No Easter Bunny and no Easter baskets. Families go to the cemeteries and picnic there around their ancestors’ graves on tables and chairs installed there expressly for this purpose. Eggs are rolled on the gravestones in a sort of game. There is church for those who choose to attend. One devout girl told me EVERYONE goes to church. I was highly skeptical and sought confirmation from other students. As expected they vigorously shook their heads and said that SOME people go to church. I’ve heard mention of a bonfire on Saturday as well as a tradition of children going house to house singing and dancing in return for red eggs. There is the cracking of eggs, something I saw in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but don’t really understand. My students taught me the greeting and response used on Easter which is a direct parallel to the He is risen/He is risen indeed we say in the States. On and on and on.
So from what I understand, Easter is a sort of Day of the Dead, plus Easter, plus Halloween.
Should be interesting.