Today is Psihosavato, a day in a series of Saturdays set aside in the liturgical Greek Orthodox Calendar to remember those who have died.
These days occur on designated Saturdays before and during the seasons of Lent and Easter: the first two are observed on the two Saturdays before Lent begins, the third Saturday of Souls coincides with the first Saturday of Lent, and the fourth Soul Saturday takes place on the Saturday before Pentecost, the close of the Easter season.
Saturday holds special significance in the religious calendar as the day the crucified Jesus lay dead in the tomb before his resurrection. On each Soul, Saturday special service is held where prayers are offered in memory of those who have died, and a list of the names of the dead is recited. Participants attending the services prepare kollyva, a dish made of sweetened, boiled wheat kernels, raisins, almonds, and pomegranate seeds traditionally associated with funerals and memorial services in Greece and Eastern Europe. In addition to attending religious services, participants often visit the graves of departed family members on Soul Saturdays to clean and decorate the burial sites.
Everyone – especially those with loved ones whose anniversary of passing falls during Lent and Holy Week – is encouraged to remember their departed loved ones annually by submitting their names to be commemorated on the Saturdays of Souls associated with Great Lent and the celebration of Pentecost.
Recipe for Kollyva from Akis Petretzikis
- 500 g wheat berries
- 250 g walnuts
- 200 g almonds, blanched
- 100 g sesame seeds
- 50 g all-purpose flour
- One pomegranate
- 400 g icing sugar
- 250 g raisins, blonde
- 80 g wheat rusk
- 3 tablespoon(s) parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon(s) cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) cloves
- In a bowl, add the wheat, cover with cold water and soak overnight.
- The following day, drain, transfer to a pot and cover with cold water.
- Boil over medium heat for about 30-40 minutes until the wheat softens.
- When ready, drain and leave it in the strainer so strain for 40-50 minutes.
- Spread a large, clean towel on a working surface and spread the wheat over it. Cover with another towel and let it dry completely for 3 hours. It should have no moisture at all.
- You will roast the nuts separately.
- Place a nonstick pan over medium to high heat.
- Coarsely chop the walnuts and add them to the pan in 2-3 batches, depending on how large your pan is. Toast for 2-3 minutes while mixing with a wooden spoon.
- When ready, allow cooling completely.
- Coarsely chop the almonds and toast them in the same way. Allow them to cool completely.
- Finely grind the sesame seeds in a blender and toast in the same manner as before. Allow to cool.
- Last, toast the flour also. Do this carefully for 1-2 minutes while mixing continuously, so it doesn’t burn.
- Cut the pomegranate in half, remove the white membrane and remove the seeds.
- In a large bowl, add all the toasted ingredients, the pomegranate seeds and the remaining ingredients.
- Mix well with a wooden spoon and serve.