Greek, Ancient & Modern

So we’re home and let me just begin by getting something off my chest. I would like to know the name of the sadistic bastard who brought our flight in to gate Z99 at 1am this morning. I mean, if you thought we needed a route march why not land the plane in County Louth? Next time I’ll drop by parachute into Skerries and get my friends to sponsor me to walk to Dublin.

Now to a happier topic.  There were things I’d forgotten about Greek weddings. First, the extremely approximate nature of time.  The invitation said 7.30pm. At 7.25, with most of the guests still standing outside the church so as not to lose any valuable smoking time, a young man in a tight T shirt skipped up onto chancel steps and started doing things with flowers and draped fabric.  I’d also forgotten that once things do get started a Greek bride doesn’t process at a stately pace on the arm of her father. Instead, she and her groom are brought into church by the priest, one on either side of him. Or, in the case of our Fani and Kostas, bundled in. Fastest bridal procession I ever saw. And because there’s no processional music in Orthodox churches half the congregation didn’t even realise the wedding had started.

Then there are the crowns: the bride’s hairdresser’s nightmare. Not only do they muss up what she has spent three hours fixing, because the two crowns are joined by a ribbon they are freighted with the high probability of comic entanglement particularly at the point in the ceremony where the couple make three circuits of the gospel stand. Factor in nerves, incense smoke and three yards of duchesse satin train and you can find yourself with a real situation on your hands.

The first thing Greek wedding guests do after the ceremony is run outside for another nic-fix, then snarf down the sugared almonds before setting off for the dinner. Or to find a dentist. Four of us drove across town, arrived at the venue, gave our names to the greeter and were directed to table 16. Very nice. A vine-decked pergola overhead, the Aegean lapping at our heels. We were half way down our glasses of Kir when somebody said, ‘You know what? I don’t recognise anybody else in the room.’  Wrong wedding party. I guess the greeter was kinda winging it. Fitzpatrick, Fostiropolous, what’s the diff?

 We did find the right party eventually and, it being a Greek affair, we were three courses into dinner before the bride and groom arrived. That’s how long the photography took. In the modern wedding hierarchy the photographer is king. At one point during this ceremony he was actually crouched like Feste between the priest and the couple. Next, neck and neck in precedence come the make-up artist and the stylist. Well, you don’t want your nose glowing or your stephanotis swags drooping all over Facebook. That would be a terrible start to a marriage. 

The dancing went on till 5am. I regret to say that Mr F and I were well into REM sleep by then in spite of the traffic jam that had slowed the exodus of us and other oldsters.  Well it was Saturday, and it was May 21st, the name day and therefore obligation to celebrate of anyone called Konstantinos  – about 10 percent of the male population. Still, gridlock in the small hours. Thessaloniki, the city that never sleeps.

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