Fiction Inspirational Holiday

It all started after I retired. I had spent the past thirty or so years working a 9 to 5, staying a regular, sleepy-minded machine in the same old city and the same old routine. I truthfully don't know we let ourselves live that kind of life. I know twenty year old me would have been aghast at the idea of such a repetitive and lack luster cycle of eat-sleep-work. But, if you let yourself float, you usually don't stop going down the stream.

Anyway, once I actually did retire, I was lost. My whole life had revolved around work, and now I felt like I was going out of my mind, kind of "depressed" if that is the right word.

Somehow I decided that I was going to rekindle my spirit of adventure, my excitement for life, and invite a sense of curiosity and wonder again. To me, the best way to do that was to travel. A lot.

You see, all of those years it was the same thing over and over. Why, even holidays were shit. Which is sad to say, I enjoyed them as a kid, but when you get older, it just reminds you of the passing of the time, how life is passing by, and how you are living it. Not to mention they just get boring.

But the world isn't boring. There are so many different things and people and traditions, holidays, stories that you don't know about when you live in a box. Something as "simple" as a change in seasons isn't really simple at all: the way the Iranian's New Year is in the spring, how the English of Cooper Hill have a hill rolling contest after a wheel of cheese, how the people of Bermuda fly kites on what for us is "Good Friday," the Bosnians Cimburijada - a communal village feast of tens of hundreds of scrambled eggs.

And that is just a few solistice traditions, particularly Spring!

For the past decade or longer, I have made it my goal to travel somewhere each Spring, and stay for multiple weeks, maybe even a month. Learn a culture, and celebrate a tradition like a native. Quite a novelty. And kind of sheds light on what we shares as humans, how intentional and curiously creative we can all really be.

Right now I am resting in a room inside a bed and breakfast owned by a nice Greek family. I am quite jet-lagged, even though it has been a couple of days since I landed.

As you may have ascertained, I am in Greece. Why, you might ask? Well, I've never been to Greece before. And, yes, the world is pretty large, but like I said: I have been keeping this tradition for a while now. And any idea of a place I haven't yet visited is a good one.

Although, I must confess, I don't exactly know how I will be participating in this a tradition in this particular country. For even which specific city or Island I will stay in for the actual week of spring celebrations (I am here weeks early) -- should I go to Athens and see the sites, celebrate Anthesteria, and drink wine (I can see it now, raising a glass, "To the wine gods")? Or celebrate the Greek Orthodox Pasha? Or participate in the last weeks of Apokries and its dances? I will at least get to see the military parades on March 25th regardless of city, as it is celebrated all over.

That is why I left such a decision up to my travel agent, Rebecca.


"Hi James! Rebecca here," I could hear her smile over the phone. "I hope you are well-rested?"

"As much as I expected at this point, thank you."

"Oh of course!! Well your plans have been finalized, arrangements arranged. Guess where you are headed?"

"Well, let me think, Crete?"

"Close, very close...Corfu!"

"Corfu? Yes, that sounds familiar. And not just because it sounds like Tofu. So, why Corfu?"

"Well for one it is beautiful, and they sure do celebrate Greek Easter and--"


"Yes, Apokries, and another, interesting, tradition," she chuckled deliberately.

I waited silently, because to pause punctuates a question.

"Uh, wait a minute, Larry," she spoke to her assistant and then to me, "James, I gotta go. The locals will tell you all about it, Larry is sending you all the info you need, and I'll talk to you soon--"

"Oh, okay, well--"



I checked my email. Boat to Corfu, travel itinerary, a link with information, and a knock at my door.


"Throwing heavy, clay, pots full of water, off of balconies, onto the street?"

"Yes! Tomorrow we will hear the church bells ring for the "First Resurrection," and then we get to throw these Botide jugs into the street at mid morning right before an orchestra plays!"

"Huh! Can't say I ever thought of it. How did it come about?"

"Come about?"

"Originate, start, how did the tradition start."

"Oh, oh! Well it is a bit of a messy story and somewhat debatable. But I think it is very intriguing, and even sort of funny and inspiring at the same time," a tour guide who was boarding in similar accommodations to mine explained. "Despite the origins, whether pagan or spiritual, the message is kind of the same, I think: out with the old, in with the new."


"And the locals do it for luck and to ward off spirits," he added.

I look down at my watch. It is 10:43 a.m., Holy Saturday, only a quarter 'til the pseudo-earthquake of shattering pottery begins.

Up until even now, I had a lot of questions, most of which had been answered: where do you stand to not get struck by a falling pot (under balconies or in appropriate places in the town square), who cleans the streets afterwards (the townspeople pick up and keep shards for good luck), and so on.

"And Monday we eat lamb roast and fly kites among many other activities to keep the celebrations going!"

"Well Jesus better rise from the dead soon, these botides are heavy," I set mine down by the handles as carefully as I could. As the upset water calmed, I stared back at myself in its reflection, the large, open mouth of the jug framing my monochrome likeness.

"That's why we want to get rid of them."

I slowly turned my head to stare at my tour guide turned friend. After a split second, we snorted, and laughed. It really wasn't that funny, but at the same time, it was.


10:59, 11:00. It sounded like dying, and living. Screaming, and joyfully releasing. Breaking hard.

Then came a melody from the philharmonic parading down a nearby street.

"It is called 'Greeks, do not fear.'"

Triumphant, stimulating. Jubilant. Enduring. Determined. Persevering.

Once the clattering faded and people had given up their smashing, residents of the apartments trickled out into streets to hear the band and to pick up the scattered remnants.

While it seemed both entirely precarious of a process from start to finish, I had to admit it was enthralling. I myself climbed down the stair levels and out into the open street to more closely observe the aftermath.

I preferred to observe, feeling almost glued in my place a yard or so away from various circles of children accompanied by adults, finding and collecting treasure pieces.

Eventually I came in closer, kneeling down to examine a surprisingly close-gathered hoard of breakage.

"Out with the old, in with the new."

April 08, 2023 03:58

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