Friday, December 4, 2020

Geia sas, a Greek welcome

The youth of St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church enter the festival tent dancing toward the stage area to perform the traditional dances of Greece. PHOTO BY CARL KELLY/COASTAL BREEZE NEWS

The youth of St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church enter the festival tent dancing toward the stage area to perform the traditional dances of Greece. PHOTO BY CARL KELLY/COASTAL BREEZE NEWS

By Carl Kelly

Geia sas! (Yah sas) They welcomed us all as one. The weekend of February 10 through 12 was another marvelous welcome. For more than 20 years the members of St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church have celebrated their heritage and shared it with the community of Collier County.

Geia sas! Thousands came to the church grounds, the huge tent, the music, the traditional garb, the art and jewelry, the church icons. But, mostly they came for the food and the dance.

The air was dense with the odors of Mediterranean spices, sweet pastries, and seared meats. In the church kitchen and at grills under a 100 foot tent an unlimited variety and quantity of the traditional Greek foods were offered throughout all three days.

Lamb shanks, mousaka, spanakopita, baklava, souvlaki, loukoumathes teased noses with inviting aromas. Mild Athenian beer, strong Greek coffee, the red and white regional wines of Greece flowed.

Geia sas!

The Greeks do eat well, but to be Greek is to dance. And, all danced together, from the very young to the very old, those in traditional Greek costume, those trained and practiced to perform, together with those of the audience who joined for love of the dance, hand in hand as a moving line, circular and intertwined as the movement of life.

It is possibly one of the few places left in modern America where generation gaps and other gaps lose their import for us, where pre-schoolers and teens, young adults and the superannuated, join hands freely across our usual human barriers and simply enjoy one another’s company in the dance.

And they did dance. They danced in a line, hand in hand, a line that moved and wound across the dance area. Together they danced the dance of life.

Geia sas! Welcome!

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