My Week in Athens… May 15

  • by XpatAthens
  • Thursday, 05 February 2015
My Week in Athens… May 15
This weekend I went to a baptism. Simple enough. I’ve been to Greek baptisms before, and usually shake my head at the crowd of people pushing up around the basin, the feeling of confusion and minor chaos, and the general sense that the whole thing was more spectacle than ceremony.

But this baptism was somehow different. Although not a highly religious family, they are lovers of traditions and of the ‘Greek way’ of doing things. The priest was decidedly ‘proper’ in following certain rules – including not letting the crowd of witnesses cram the baptismal basin. But unavoidably, there was a crying baby.

For me, the church itself played a big role in the general tone of the day. Agia Marina in Thiseio – on the hill behind all the cafes – is a special place. Its location, its history and its size make it interesting. The location of the church is affiliated with religious beliefs regarding the birth and health of children, dating back to ancient times. The original church on the site was constructed as far back as the 11-12th century. But it’s the cave within the church, revealing the place of an older place of worship, which really impresses – and which really gives the church a unique and, I would even say, ‘mystical’ feeling. I highly recommend dropping in to take a look…

I’m not a religious person, but I feel there is value in these things - for the sake of a culture and its centuries-old traditions, and for our connection to those things. For the sake of family and friends getting together to celebrate. For the sake of the special bond between the ‘nono’ and the child. And for the sake of writing the first important milestone in the child’s life. The ceremony, the lunch that followed, the dancing and the happy little child that barely knew what was going on – this was a nice day by any count…

Until next week,


In this weekly space, keep up with ‘Jack’ as he navigates daily life in Athens… Anecdotes, stories, hits & misses, the good, the bad and, well, the rest…