Greek Easter Memories with George Markos

For almost 40 years George Markos has been the owner of Brother’s Deli, he’s proud of his Greek heritage and is looking forward to celebrating Orthodox Greek Easter this Sunday. The holiday is known as  ChristosAnesti – Christ is Risen!

George Markos behind the counter at Brother’s Deli.

Easter Sunday is the most important day during Greek Easter. This day is associated with the traditional dish—roasted lamb. It’s a day when families gather together, throwing big parties with lots of red wine, dancing, music, and enjoyment.

Coming to this country at the age of 15 from a small town outside of Tripoli named Kerasea, Markos has kept and embraced his Greek traditions and food.

We sat down in his in his restaurant to talk about Greek Easter.

What was Greek Easter Like when you were a kid?

Very emotional. It feels like you’re getting ready for a big funeral and then Easter Day is a celebration of Jesus Christ rising from the dead. As a child, it was a time everyone was together.

What traditions did you follow?

You fast 40 days before Greek Easter. No meat, oil, cheese or dairy products, only vegetarian foods. We always tried to respect out parents. I also remember the red egg. The red egg only got painted Thursday. Saturday night there was an exception to allow everyone to eat the oil.

And very early Sunday morning?

Early Sunday morning the priest comes out around 1-1:30 a.m. with a candle and says Christos Anesti – Christ is Risen. That gives us such love and peace, and the candle light is passed to everyone in the church during services. Then people kiss each other to express love.

What were some of the foods you had?

Of course we had to sacrifice a lamb, one of my father’s it was a tradition to prepare it for cooking outdoors on a spit. The women are inside preparing soups, salads, we have lamb chops on the side, lemon roasted potatoes (Paidakia). A favorite pastry of mine is karydopita (walnut cake).

You can’t ruin the lamb. My father would stand like a security guard and not let anyone too close. It would take four or five hours to cook. The lamb should be crusty and juicy and only the father is allowed to taste

We also had mageiritsa, a Greek Easter Soup made from the insides of the lamb, romaine lettuce and a lemon egg sauce (avgolemono). This is served Saturday night at midnight to break the 40-day fast.

What’s one of your fondest memories?

Being given white shoes and a candle. People carry home the candle and make a sign of the cross at the top of their door to the house. This is to bring good luck. The best part is after dinner. We have desserts and the music starts – in Greece it is like a big celebration with the husband and wife and kids singing in the streets. It is a big celebration.

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