My host father is very religious. He doesn’t go to church very often. But he faithfully observes religious dietary habits and quietly crosses himself at religious times. And he keeps the television on all day on religious days to check up on the Patriarch of Georgian Orthodoxy. This week, he kicked up he fasting to intense levels.
Last night, he watched ‘The Passion of Christ’ on television. Although Georgia tends to censor their programming on television, this movie seemed to be as I remembered, a raw and cringing depiction of the torture of Jesus. I felt sad for him as he watched the sacrifice of his Lord portrayed on the television screen.
Tonight (midnight- Easter eve), he is at the main church in Oz.
Tomorrow he will break fast. And we will celebrate with a grand supra!
I decided to stay in Oz for Easter. My host family really wanted me to celebrate with them and see their traditions.
My host mom has been cooking for several days now. She started with cooking a traditional cake called ‘paska’. Georgians go crazy over this stuff. I’m trying to come up with a relatable cultural analogy. Something mediocre tied to some great event. Some unexceptional tradition that MUST be done in association with the main celebratory event. When in conversation about Easter with a Georgian, their eyes light up and they command me to try paska. “You must eat pasca!!!” It’s like I get when talking about sushi or great NC barbeque.
So I did. But it’s nothing special. It tastes like a Cinnamon Bun… without the icing or the cinnamon. It’s a dense cake. She slices it into thick pieces, but I can only ever finish half, and that’s with a glass of water or tea. And for the last three days, we have been eating it morning and night. She says that it gets better over time. “After a week, it will be delicious!” How is that possible? I can tell its getting stale already. Maybe it’s an Easter miracle. I will eagerly wait and see. She made 15 of them in various sizes, so I am pretty sure we will have some left a week from now.
There is another tradition in Georgia to paint the eggs red. I’m sure I don’t have to explain the symbolism. They are traditionally dyed with the root of the madder plant and onion peel. Traditionally, they are supposed to be dyed on Good Friday. She showed me the root, but I haven’t seen any red eggs around here.
This week, Natia bought four hens and a rooster. At first I thought she was excited we were going to eat them. Good thing I didn’t speak up. She was excited for the eggs. Silly me.
She took me out to look at them and everything. Yes indeed, there were five chickens!
Today one of them laid the first egg!
And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.” Mark 16:6