15th August 2008

August 15 is the day that Orthodox Greeks celebrate the Dormition (falling asleep) and Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The Feast of the Assumption celebrates both Mary’s natural death, and her assumption bodily into heaven.

It is the major holiday of the summer and every church in Corfu with a connection to the Virgin Mary (Panayia) will have some form of litany either on the eve of 15th August or on the actual day.

It also marks the cusp of summer. Holidays are drawing to a close, many Greeks who have been visiting Corfu from mainland Greece will be returning home within the next few days, and daylight hours are lessening at the rate of a few minutes every day. For those of us who live here, however, there are still at least two months of proper summer ahead and the prospect of the amazing spectacle of the August full moon on Saturday 16th.

It is well worth making an effort to be somewhere where you can watch the moon rising on this day. The old Greek rhyme that tells of the August moon turning night into day reminds me of our own nursery rhyme “Girls and boys come out to play, the moon is shining as bright as day”.

The absolutely best place to watch the moon rise is over the sea, but there isn’t anywhere in Corfu from where that is possible, due to the mountains of Epirus and Albania to the east. Next best place is high in the mountains anywhere on the east coast. Or better still, a central mountainous area where you can watch the sun set in the west and then about face and wait for the moon!

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