Straight from the outer boroughs
by Amanda Halkiotis
|Springtime in Astoria–by Muckster via Flickr|
Every year, I eagerly await springtime in New York. I get giddy just thinking about the Bronx Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden, window shopping for cute warm-weather clothes, and once again resuming my quest for the perfect iced coffee. Springtime also calls for fancy dresses and fun festivities in honor of the spring holidays, including Eastern Orthodox Easter, also known as Easter Sunday. This year the Greek ceremonies will take place on Sunday, May 5, a full five weeks after Western Easter.
I’ll spend this week in Astoria where I live, and this coming weekend, I’ll head home to Connecticut in time for midnight service at 12 a.m. on Easter Sunday. Later that afternoon, my family and I will indulge in a fabulous traditional Easter bash with a smorgasbord of Greek food.
The most important religious day of the year for us Greeks, my extended family puts extra effort into planning Easter Sunday each year. To address the inevitable question I’ve been assaulted with since grade school, “Why is my Easter different?” To condense a long and complex answer, we still follow the Julian Calendar that Julius Caesar established in 46 BC. Like Western Easter, Eastern Orthodox Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. Unlike Western Easter, our Easter must be observed after Passover.
By now, both Easter and Passover may be long forgotten by most New Yorkers. Not so in Astoria, where the largest concentration of Greek-Americans in the United States reside. Any day of the year, places like Plaza Meat Market or Akropolis Meat Market have whole, fresh lambs in the windows, ready to be dressed and roasted. Ocean Fish Market has whole fishes like smelts and porgies on ice out front. Around this time, however, these shops increase their inventory for Greek Easter. People place orders weeks in advance for the meatiest, juiciest legs of lamb.
|Roasted lamb on a bed of spinach with dolmades–by naotakem via Flickr|
|Pussy willows —by Anastasia R via Flickr|
|Baklava!–by yosoynuts via Flickr|