Spring is finally here…
Spring and Easter days mean a lot to me and I am glad that Easter preparation has been part of Aether Boutique hotel over the last ten years.
For one more year, things are moving slowly, so our need to spend some time outside is growing.
The fields are becoming greener and greener, the flowers are starting to blossom, the water is turning blue…we are seeking the sun light and we don’t lose the opportunity for a lazy sunbath.
This time of the year, we love to look for the static flowers (annual). We call them also ‘amaranta’ in Greece due to the fact that they are long-lasting. We always make sure that they are not in the water. Some of the rocky fields in Mykonos are becoming a flower bed filled with purple static flowers. The view is amazing.
As May is around the corner, we keep the tradition of the static wreath hanging from most of the front doors of the households on the island. The wreath symbolizes the first day of the spring, or in other words, the victory against the winter.Every first of May, the islanders put up the wreath on their door being curious if next morning is still there…otherwise, it means that a Mykonian young boy has stolen it and given it as a gift to his girlfriend…
Yesterday Athanasios drove us in a secret location very close to our home where a young man -friend of Athanasios- cultivate static flowers! This was a magic experience me and Joanna picking our own bouquet from the fields.
The week before Holy Week is full of traditions which vary across different regions in Greece. This is one of the reasons that Greek Easter is a great experience for tourists and we always suggest to our guests to visit Greece this time of the year. On ‘Lazarus Saturday’ women as well as bakeries bake ‘Lazarakia’, in the shape of the man Lazarus, swaddled, exactly the way ‘Lazarus’ was resurrected from Jesus.
The fragrancies coming out of the cinnamon, clove and mastiha are just irresistible. Children love them and enjoy taking part in the baking.
According to our religion, on ‘Palm Sunday’ after Lazarus resurrection, people welcomed Jesus with leaves from a palm tree. On this day, churches are decorated with small bouquets of palm leaves in the shape of a cross. We usually decorate them with wildflowers or flowers from our garden like violets, daisies and carnations.
In Mykonos we celebrate this day with young children. At the end of the service, children, by holding the ‘vagio’ and by competing with each other about which one is the bigger, come along Gialos inside Chora and sing ‘Vagio Vagio to Vagio’. The most spectacular choir is the one that consists of children’s voices. A beautiful tradition for all of us… We are so lucky that our cousin is a priest and lives next door. Every year, girls receive their ‘vagio’ and we feel more than happy to decorate them with flowers from our garden.
Unfortunately, two years now, due to the pandemic, we missed the opportunity to keep alive our tradition in Gialos. Joanna was lucky enough to have had the experience for four years and we hope that little Sophie will have this experience soon.
On Monday or Tuesday of the Holy Week, most houses bake the famous Easter ‘koulourakia’ based on butter. They are shaped by hand while a beautiful, goldish colour appears on the top of them. This year my elder daughter Joanna wanted to have her friends at our place to bake their own ‘koulourakia’. It was an opportunity to gather all together again, daughters and mothers chatting, shaping, baking…
It is our responsibility to pass our traditions down to our children.
Below, you will find an old recipe for ‘koulourakia’ coming from my mother-in law (a great cook). You can bake them at any time of the year and enjoy them with a cup of coffee or tea.
- 250gr unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 250gr margarine (room temperature)
- 320gr sugar
- 1 kg of soft flour
- the zest and juice from 3 oranges
- 1/2 tbs baking soda
- 1 tbs vanilla extract
- 70ml cognac
- 70ml ouzo
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Beat the butter, margarine & sugar in the electric mixer until to be soft and fluffy.
In a bowl, mix the flour sifted with the baking soda.
In another bowl, mix all the liquid ingredients and the zest.
Add them to the butter mixture in the mixer at a very low speed (carefully).
Outside the mixer, add the flour mixture, stirring by hand.
Divide the dough into equal parts and leave in the fridge about an hour or more.
Shape into your favourite shapes and bake for 25 minutes or until they turn light brown.
For any question or inquiry i would be very glad to receive your messages!
Always for you,