I’ve always been curious about the Eastern Orthodox Church, probably because I know less about it than most other churches. My friend Mike goes to St. George Orthodox Church in Wichita, and I’ve been meaning to go to a service with him for a long time. Since I took him to the Swedish dinner on Friday, he told me he would buy tickets for me and my mom to go to the Lebanese dinner at St. George on Sunday – what a deal!
It was clear right from walking in that this was a well-oiled machine, and everyone knew their role. We were quickly seated, and served our plates of piping hot food. There were cabbage rolls, a salad, kibbe, green beans and rice in tomato sauce, pita bread, and of course, baklava! (Ok, so apparently it’s baklawa and pronounced some weird way I’ve never heard before because this is the Lebanese version, and not the Greek version, but you probably wouldn’t have known that, so I’m just going to keep referring to it as baklava.)
It was all so delicious!! My mom asked me how it compared to the Swedish dinner, and that was the first time that I realized almost every dish at the Swedish dinner was cold, as opposed to this meal that was super hot. There was so much food I think I ate about half of what I was served, and was given foil to cover my plate and take my leftovers home – apparently this is common. I was also saving room for more baklava, and a baklava sundae, which you could buy on the way out.
Mike mentioned that the church was doing tours if we wanted one, so we followed him to the sanctuary and met up with a tour guide. Guys, it was so cool! I thought the guy would just show us around, but he for real gave a great tour and I learned SO MUCH about the Eastern Orthodox Church! He told us all about the iconography and the symbolism of the red and the blue (blue represents humanity, and red divinity), and why their churches always face east (to orient towards the rising of the sun/son), and so much more. I also had a light bulb go off in my head when I saw the icon of St. George…who was slaying a dragon. What?! You mean this was the same St. George that I celebrate in April thanks to Día de Sant Jordi in Spain – the day of the guy who slayed the dragon for a princess that is super popular in Catalonia?! Mind blown. I was celebrating this guy and not even realizing he was a saint in the church.
During the tour they mentioned that attending an Easter service at St. George is a must. Apparently their Easter falls on a different date than the date we normally celebrate Easter here in the U.S., and their service meets late at night and goes til like 2am, then there’s a big party afterwards. I will definitely be checking this out this year!