After I filmed this, I ran to the internet so it could tell me what was happening. I'd done some preliminary research last week, after the church started decorating, so I knew something was going to happen sometime. I just didn't know when it was all going to go down. Armed with the knowledge that it was, indeed, going down tonight (and tomorrow, apparently), I was able to figure out that February 2 is one of the Great Feasts in the Orthodox liturgical calendar. Tonight is the forefeast, and tomorrow is the feast itself.
This is finally the official end of the Christmas season. I know I said that Theophany/Epiphany was the end, but I lied. This is the end. Christmas is finally over. The Forefeast of the Meeting of the Lord, and then the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple are, as you might have surmised, an observance of Christ's presentation at the temple. Other Christian traditions call it Candlemas.
If you'll recall from the Bible (what do you mean you haven't read it?), forty days after Christ was born, Mary and Joseph had to take him to the temple. When they went, they ran into two people of note. The first was Simeon, who had been told that he wouldn't die before seeing the Messiah. He saw the baby Jesus, took him in his arms, and blessed him. The second person they saw was Anna the Prophetess. She also prophesied about the Messianic nature of Jesus, and was really pleased to see him.
After this Feast, we really get started on the Easter season. The stores are way ahead of us. Did I tell you they've already put out their Carnival stuff?
Oh, I should point out that Orthodox Easter is on a different calendar than other-Christians' Easter. Orthodox Easter 2016 is May 1st, so it actually is really impressive that they had this stuff out so early. I took these photos during the first week of January. Carnival won't happen for another month and a half. Other-Christians' Carnival is going on right now, and will culminate next Tuesday. I know that because one of our friends is currently in Venice and posted some really boss photos from a ball she attended. I could have been there, darn it.
|Carnival costume accessories. This is Greek Halloween! I've found it! You can't imagine how I felt to see all this crappy, cheap, costume junk for sale. It warmed my heart.|
|Fancy masks. My friend gave me one of these in high school. He got it in Venice. I love it. It's purple and glittery with fantastic feathers sprouting out of the top. I think it's at my parents' house. I want it back. Maybe I'll wear it during labor.|
|All of this stuff was made in China, and a good amount of it was packaged for Halloween. They didn't even bother to change the labels for Carnival. Easiest profit margins ever.|
|So many different ways to be offensive with your headwear. |
You can just barely see one of their robust collection of sombreros behind the...is that a keffiyeh?
The forefeast has been going for about an hour now. They're broadcasting the service really loudly over microphones. It's cool to sit here on my couch and be a part of it, because I can wear sweatpants, mess around on my computer, and walk to the kitchen to get food whenever I want. I wonder how many hours it will take before it stops being cool.