If you’ve grown up in the country, you might be identified with this post, and they might even liven up images of your childhood innocence.
Saturday of Lazarus and from my lips spontaneously comes out an old familiar melody, < < “Lazarus came, the vine came…” and the basket of my heart fills with aromas and flavors, images and memories. Every year, on this day, the chest of memories opens and revives in my soul the custom of Lazarina. According to the custom, the girls, called Lazarines, go from house to house with their flower baskets and sing the Carols of Lazarus. In the end they collect, treats, eggs and tips and place them in their baskets.
Lazarus is here, Hay is here,
the Sunday has come when you fish.
Get up, Lazarus, and don’t sleep,
your mother came from the city,
bring you paper and worry beads
write Lemonia and Cyparissi.
I was also a lazarina, and today I will travel you to my sweetest memory. I close my eyes. What I feel more than that time, is the intense fragrant aroma of lilac. The memory of smell. Rooted and fluffy there at the edge of the wire fence of neighbor has been spreading its musk for years now. Its rich twigs with its lilac flowers decorate my basket and the vases of the whole neighborhood.
Since the eve of Lazarus, the preparation of tomorrow’s day began early. As soon as I was back from school, I would drop the bag and go straight to the fields to collect whatever wildflower there was. The whole thing looked like the hunt for the lost treasure. Actually, it was a flower hunt, to find the most beautiful and rare flowers that will dress up my basket. In fact, there was a spirit of invisible and innocent competition for the most striking basket, reinforced by the comments and admiration of the elders. If things were difficult in the fields, I turned to the flowery courtyards. First, there was a watch, timid approach, then wedged hands through the bars, stretching body like a rubber to catch the unsuspecting blossom. Women were guarded their gardens to protect them. Most of them, however, cut their flowers and offered them generously, as if they were planting them for this purpose. Cut and give them to the little girls, the lazarines. It was a feast and there was a joy in everyone’s faces. Happy laughter’s and kids voices, all around. In expectation of the spring and the Resurrection. From time to time I was returning home, I was giving the flowers to mom gloating, looking at her gaze and collecting her enthusiasm for my colorful bouquets. She put them in the water to preserve their freshness and encouraged me to continue. Again, from the beginning, in my struggle. And if it happened on the road to meet any potential Lazarina, pretended I was withered and frustrated and I did not reveal my little treasures. Just of fear of discovering the “secret courtyard”.
That’s how the day progressed until nightfall. Early evening, the decoration began. A real rite! Thread and scissors, the blossoms spread out underfoot until they find their place around my basket. Once in a while I was leaving the bed and I was secretly glancing at the ornate basket. Stress may not wither.in the first light I was getting ready, too. Flowers decorated my hair; I was wearing my fine spring clothes, my favorite floral skirt and the white pair of my Mary Jones. I remember it as if it were now. First I used to say the carol at home and get my first egg in the basket. Then I used to run to find my mate, my Lazarina, to get the job. Yes, never alone, always couple. We were holding each other hands tightly. By this way we were sharing our anxiety. You know, on the first bells there was tightness in the stomach, blushing in the cheeks, giggling shy. The first words were coming out with great difficulty. Then we were getting the hang of it. Playing the same tape, our baskets were filling with eggs, pastries and drachmas. The tips were generous enough. It was another era. So we’d go to the streets for hours, climb ladders, unlock gates and walk through every house in the neighbourhood to make our little ditty sound. The houses were opening and all the ladies of the houses were greeting us with joy and smile. With their hugging faces – offering us support and warm- they were listening our song patiently even though they’d heard carols another five or six times. Go on, sing your carol….”Na ta peite” !!!!