A Name Day Festival
We attended Harrys’ name day festival on Friday morning. If was a smaller affair than previous years, possibly because a) some people were still stuck in Rhodes and b) there is another festival for the same name up in the hills, and the weather was lovely. But so was our service and the friendly gathering afterwards which included coffee, cakes, people pleased to see you at church (even if I do only go once a year), doughnuts, bread, Jenine’s cupcakes that she provides, after enjoying the chanting and the spectacle. The more I go, the more words I understand so by the time I’m 145 I may be able to understand all of the sung liturgy.
If you’re coming to Symi and are interested to see inside a church, the best time to go is when there is a service on. The buildings are usually locked at other times unless someone is in there cleaning. You’re welcome to attend a service or part of, just make sure you dress appropriately, switch off phones and don’t chatter etc. If unsure what to do, find a stall or seat towards the back and sit/stand as the congregation does. There are certain practises which are not always, excuse me, religiously kept, such as the men sitting on one side and the women on the other. As a visitor, you won’t be expected to keep to these, but if someone does direct you to a certain place, just do as you are told. Name Days are the best festivals to attend (in my opinion), although there are many other regular services during the week. With a Name Day, you will find you’re welcomed to the coffee and cakes afterwards. You will also be blessed during the service. No need to go anywhere, someone will come with a tray of candles and anoint you with holy water – drop a couple of Euros on the tray in return. If in doubt about what to go to, ask your holiday rep or a local person and take some advice first.
When I say ‘dress appropriately’ I mean don’t go in your shorts or bikini. For a Name Day, I usually (er, always) wear black shoes, trousers, a jumper and, as Harry’s is in February, my Crombie overcoat. With that and my glasses reacting to the sun, a few people have asked me (on Facebook) if I have joined the Mafia, but I just say I am Harry’s bouncer for the day. Here are a couple more photos of the event for you.