November 21st is a big celebration in the Greek Orthodox calendar as it is the Isodia Tis Theotokou- The Feast commemorating when as a young child, the Panagia entered the Temple in Jerusalem.
It is also a day where traditionally every Mama & Yiayia in many Greek villages are on a mission, gathering as many Polysporia (legumes) as they can- including all types of beans, corn, peas, wheat, and lentils and cook all the seeds together for a big family feast.
This feast is also known as Panagia Mesosporitissa (Panagia= Virgin Mary, mesos= middle, sporos= seed), Panagia Archisporitissa (archisporitissa = the sowing begins) Panagia Aposporitissa (= the sowing is over) or Polysporitissa (many seeds) because of the offering of legumes and grains of the latest harvest.
The Sporous are traditionally boiled together and taken to the village church to be blessed by the priest. On the eve and before the morning of November 21, Yiayia would go to the village fountain and pour a tablespoon of polysporia, a few coins, a little wine and raki and say, “Οποs τρεχειτονερονατρεχειτοβιο.”
This was a prayer to God that they would have a good supply of food for their children- just like the never-ending water in the springs.
After that, families would gather together and eat bowls of soup and celebrate with their neighbours and the rest of the village at the Panigiri (festival).
Today, many Greek ladies in Greece and around the world still hold this tradition by cooking large pots of Fakes (lentils) or Fassolada (beans) on November 21 each year.
The “polysporia” tradition was revived again this year in the area of ancient Eleusis, last night, on the eve of Isodia Tis Thetokou, where residents of the area gathered at the local folklore museum with boiled legumes and wheat, based on the tradition of offering the type of crop each family cultivated throughout the year.
The Polysporia were then distributed in small plastic cups after the evening liturgy, to worshippers at the Church of Panagia Mesosporitissa, which crowns a hill in the ancient cult center of Demeter.
The church was built over the ancient Telesterion and last night locals celebrated and offered prayers for the fertility of the earth, guaranteeing good crops.
According to Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, Greece is promoting this tradition for inclusion in UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list. Mendoni said at a recent press conference, “this is a wonderful tradition which in reality is a revival of a corresponding tradition of antiquity.”