When I first conceived of this blog, the thing I most wanted it to do for my life was to get me to do things I’ve meant to do forever and to find the things the rut of everyday life had kept me from discovering. Well, I’d meant to go to the Seattle Greek Festival for, oh, at least seven years now.* Seven years out of the nearly nine I’ve lived here. Come the hell on, Standard Deviation. It’s like four blocks from the freaking 43.
I’m posting this fast in the hopes that you’ll go too. I went the evening of September 13th; it keeps going on the 14th and 15th. I want you to go. I want more people to enjoy the incredibly fine spanakopita and baklava I stuffed myself with. By the looks of just tonight, I’ve no doubt there’ll be gobs more. They take AmEx, for god’s sake. The Greeks are doing alright.
The Greeks plan for inclement weather. It’s almost like the church has been operating in Seattle more more than 40 years or something. It was kind of loud in here; I recommend upstairs dining. But you do you.
Anyway, it was beautiful the night I went. Fall has suddenly arrived, hasn’t it? My friend greeted me at the entrance and told me I needed to get my baklava-craving mitts on some of these:
THEY HAVE THEIR OWN TOKENS. “So they’re in this enough to have their own tokens made?” I asked my friend. “Maybe a lot of the Greek churches have the same name, so they can get together to make bulk orders,” she mused. “Maybe they all go to www.greekfestivalsupplies.com and stock up there.” We decided this had to be the case.
No, despite my love of ephemera, I did not keep one as a souvenir. Why would I want a piece of metal when I could have falafel? Come on now.
This is one of the three beautiful, chunky, 60s-style stained glass windows over the front doors. (The other two had three fish. The Greek Orthodox folk are into symbols and numbers in a way I was unaware permeated something I consider fairly mainstream Christianity.)
And despite the church being stunningly beautiful – I am an absolute sucker for intricate, lushly made mosaics, which St. Demetrios is absolutely lined with – I found that there is no faster way to make me shy with my camera than to say the words, “We venerate the iconography.” Well, if you’re going to be that way about it, I guess I’m going to get all respectful and keep my camera in my bag and instead just listen to your priest give us an incredibly detailed tour of all of the art inside your church.**
Yes, part of the Greek Festival is the option of a church tour. I’m a sucker for official buildings (I freaking love capitols, for instance, and will go out of my way to tour them), and an official building dedicated to an unfamiliar branch of a religion was not something I could pass up. I thought we’d get a little, “Here’s the pulpit, here’s the baptismal, there’s the choir loft, now go get more baklava,” but no. No! Instead, the parish priest took us through an hour-long explanation of all of the art within the church. Look at the footnote! It’s a lot of art! I’m going to sound a little daft now, because I haven’t done all the follow-up research I plan on doing, because I want you to read this soon and go to the Greek Festival seriously come on go, but there were a series of hints at a very different kind of relationship to images and icons and symbols within the Greek Orthodox Church that I haven’t seen in Catholic or Other Protestant services or churches. When someone takes care to say that they venerate the iconography, they do not worship it, you get the sense of some accusations having flown back and forth at some point in history. I’ve never heard that kind of precise churchly talking point outside of, you know, scripture.
I almost didn’t go out tonight. Fatigue seems to be in the air; I was originally supposed to join a largeish group of friends, but several people fell out, to the point that it was one friend, her visiting parents, and me. And, by the time I got home from work, I was dragging ass too, as seems to be the order of the day. But I knew if I didn’t go tonight, I wouldn’t go in 2013, and that’s not how I’m operating these days. And I wanted to meet my friend’s parents, which was the right thing to do – as I ate dolmatas and kept the honey from the baklava from rolling down my wrists***, I got to hear about their road trip through Montana and Walla Walla. Did you know I love retirees who travel? Because I do.
Anyway. Go to the Greek Festival. Go with tranquil company. Get some tokens, stuff yer face, learn a little, and roll away happy.
*By my best guess, the last Greek Festival I went to was in Florida in 2003 or 2004. What the hell?
***And discovered that butter-soaked puff pastry is an excellent remedy for monthly uterine malaise. Go Greeks go.