Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Blessing of the Baskets

Fifty ot sixty people outside St. Peter & St. Paul Church, at least that many Easter baskets on the small lawns, some colorfully decorated, & filled, I suppose, with Easter goodies [Easter break-fast food, I've been informed]. A small choir stood off to one side, answering the chanted prayers of a man wearing an embroidered white robe. The people occasionally crossed themselves. After these musical preliminaries, the chanting priest or deacon walked around the lawn & shook incense on every basket. When he was done, the people collected their baskets. Beautiful spring afternoon. The chanter was not the pastor, an elderly man in a black cassock sitting in a folding chair next to the church door. Tonight they have a midnight vigil*, with the big Pascha / Easter service in the morning. Nice to see life in the church. Most of the people were older, a few children with their parents. In most of those families, grandma & grandpa provide the "blessed" basket on Easter. Lovely tradition. I watched from across the street.

* Rachmaninoff composed beautiful vigil music.

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The baskets are filled with the food for Easter breakfast. It's the meal that breaks the Lenten fast.
That's makes sense. I don't know much about Orthodox practice, but the more observant always seem to be fasting to a lesser or greater extent. I had a Greek Orthodox social worker counselor & she said they rarely leaned hard on that in her church, it was mostly a private matter.
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