Preparing for Greek Easter

For those of you who don’t know, I’m Greek. I was also raised Greek Orthodox and, while I don’t identify as such anymore, this time of the year is still a special one for me.

In the Greek Orthodox Church, the week we are in now is Holy Week. Yesterday, my mother and I spent the day making tsoureki, a traditional sweet bread. It is a fairly labor-intensive process and requires a lot of patience – especially when dealing with the yeast. I don’t know what it is, but our yeast never seems to proof right despite our efforts. Even after running out to the store and buying brand new yeast, it still fell flat. So, our loaves aren’t too big, but they are tasty just the same.

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In the evening, we went to church. The Good Friday service commemorates the death of Jesus on the Cross. The congregation also lights candles and sings the lamentations, of which there are three parts. This is actually the only aspect of Greek Church I don’t mind being present for and I was slightly disappointed because the church we went to sang the lamentations differently from the one I went to growing up. Oh well. After, the Epitaphios is carried around the church. The Epitaphios represents the body of Jesus as it would have been carried to the tomb and is usually heavily decorated with fresh flowers.

After, my mom and I went home. We will go to church again tonight, for Holy Saturday. Then, tomorrow is Easter!

 

A Sunny Sunday

Yesterday, the weather was better than it had been in a long time: sunny and about 53 degrees. So, Steve and I decided we would have an adventure day!

In the morning, we woke up early and made our way to Dong Gu (another area of Ulsan) to find Saint Dionysus Greek Orthodox Church. My mom had told me it existed a few months ago and I had been meaning to go. After taking the bus to the wrong stop, we got in a taxi and the driver took us right to the front steps. It was beautiful! I took a few pictures before heading inside.

We had arrived just before Holy Communion. It has been a very long time since I’ve attended service on a Sunday. While I don’t consider myself a practitioner, I do feel that it’s still part of my heritage. Steve and I stood in the back. The priest spoke in a combination of Korean and Greek, and I was surprised to see quite a number of Greek people in attendance.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the interior of the church, but it was incredible. You would have never known you were in Korea,  except for the fact that all the lettering that should have been in Greek, was painted in hangeul.

After church, Steve and I instinctively headed toward the water (we’re a Scorpio and a Cancer) and took a nice long walk to Ilsan Beach. We were starving by the time we got there, and found a Korean buffet to try.

Holy. Shit. This place was amazing. There was sushi and other fresh seafood, make your own bibimbap, a salad bar, a cheese station, soups, a steamer overflowing with mandu, and a selection of fried foods. The wait staff even brought us a plate of steak with vegetables and massive bowls of udon. We ate so much! Then, we ate dessert. There was ice cream, bungeoppang (carp-shaped pastry filled with red bean), fresh fruits, and other sweet things to nibble on.

After, we left Ilsan Beach and made our way to the Jangsaengpo Whale Museum, something else I’ve been wanting to do since I’ve been here. The museum is situated right next to the harbor and you can see all he boats coming in and out. What I did not expect, though, was that the majority of the exhibit was on whaling and that made me kind of upset. After walking through the main exhibit hall, we went to a secondary building which serves as a small aquarium and movie theatre. We even got to see dolphins! Overall, it was a lot of fun and I definitely suggest going if you’re visiting Ulsan.

What did you do this weekend?