Today is the first day of Lent in the Greek Orthodox Church.
This year, unusually, Western and Eastern Easter fall on the same day (April 8th) so this week is the start of Lent for us all - however we have two days less in the Western/Protestant church since of course Shrove Tuesday is tomorrow, and Ash Wednesday, the day after, is the first day of Western Lent. Perhaps it's due to different methods of counting 40 days, but it seems odd to me that there would be two days' difference.
In theory, the Greek Orthodox Christians fast from meat during Lent. In practise, in Cyprus, most of them take little or no notice of this, although some do cut out meat during Holy Week (ie the week before Easter). When we first came to Cyprus, we were careful not to have a barbecue during Lent, not wishing to offend any of our neighbours. Eight years later, there is meat available everywhere, and few vegetarian options in restaurants.
I only wish some of them would think of fasting from cigarettes, since smoke is also around almost everywhere, including restaurants and public buildings. At best there's a small no-smoking area, but as it's usually in the same room as smoking, it hardly makes any difference. At least they've made supermarkets and banks non-smoking, as well as the airport, so that's a start.
Many of the Cypriots go on picnics today, which is known as Green Monday, and is a public holiday. The roads are usually packed with people out for the day. Richard took the day off but we haven't done much.
At 12.30, just before lunch, my computer suddenly switched itself off and we realised we had a power cut. These happen occasionally, not usually lasting for very long. Not a huge problem in the middle of the day. I was pleased that the washing machine had finished, as had the breadmaker, so I could hang out the laundry and we could eat the warm bread. We have a kettle that works on the gas hob, so we could make coffee after lunch - and as it's winter, the house isn't particularly hot so we didn't worry over-much about the fridge.
The power cut lasted two hours. By the end of it we were realising just how much we rely on electricity! Water pressure was poor - it's usually pumped electronically. The heating, although powered with gas, is also pumped by electricity and the timers are electric. The hob on the stove-top is gas, but the oven is electric - as is, of course, the regular kettle, the microwave, the steamer, the juice extractor, the dishwasher...
Perhaps the electricians were all out on picnics, with their mobile phones switched off. Two hours did seem a long time to be without electricity, and it was clearly a fairly widespread problem as someone who had popped into Richard's office (about a mile away) said there was a power cut there too. Meaning he had to go and start all the computers up again once the electricity was back on again.
(For anyone interested in Daniel's life on the Doulos, he's currently in the Philippines. There are some recent blog entries at http://brummieatsea.blogspot.com)