Saturday, April 19, 2014

The end of Lent

Given to us in Advent, our poinsettia, now outside my study, is still thriving at the end of Lent:


We don't usually do a whole lot during Lent, other than (if we remember) eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and hot cross buns on Good Friday.

But at the end of February, while chatting over the dinner table about food in general and the cost of groceries, Richard made an idle comment that perhaps we could try giving up meat for Lent. Since I have decidedly vegetarian leanings I thought this was a great idea, and Tim said that in Anglican tradition, Sundays (and other feast days) are excluded from Lenten fasts, so perhaps we could stop eating meat for six days a week only...

As it happened, in the first week of Lent we had friends staying, one of whom is a vegetarian anyway. So it made a good excuse for me to experiment with a few new recipes, as well as making some old favourites such as Spanokopitta, or vegetable and nut cobbler.

It doesn't help that Richard and Tim are both dairy-free; cow's milk products cause their ears to block up. Goat and sheep cheese are fine in moderation - perhaps once or twice per week - but it meant that I had to experiment with other forms of protein, primarily beans and lentils. Some of the things we ate were pretty good; others less successful, although I don't think anything was inedible.

It's been interesting, but although I haven't felt any cravings or inclinations to eat meat for the past six weeks, Richard definitely has. I'm convinced that some people actually need meat for their metabolism and general health, and he seems to be one of them. So we'll be back eating meat four or five times per week as of tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Daniel and some of his colleagues in the UK were producing a series of mini videos which they released during Lent; one per week at first, and then several this past week. They are in the form of a modern video blog, taking the events leading up to Easter as if happening in the 21st century, from the point of view of the apostle Matthew.  This is the trailer for the whole series:

It took me a little while to get used to the style, but I've liked it very much. It's quite thought-provoking, and certainly helps to understand a little better what it might have been like to be one of the first disciples.

Links to the whole series can be found (with the most recent at the top) at the Matt's Blog, or the related Facebook page.

When we first moved to Cyprus, Lent was quite a big thing: the Greek Orthodox (who are the majority in this country) are supposed to fast from meat and various other foods during Lent. But even in fifteen years, secularism is growing stronger, and there seem to be fewer and fewer who take any notice of Lent.

Well, other than some teenagers and young adults, presumably bored and unemployed, who collect wooden items from around their neighbourhoods - not always with permission - and have bonfires each evening, usually culminating with a huge one on Easter Saturday. Here's a site of an unofficial bonfire site near where our friends live:

In recent years these have become more competitive, and are often accompanied by home-made firecrackers, which are extremely dangerous as well as illegal. Every year there is an accident of some kind; last night our friends' neighbour, a young man in his twenties, was rushed to hospital after a firecracker exploded in his hand. The police were involved, and the bonfire site cleared, later on; but how terrible for the young man and his family.

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