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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Soul Sabbath

On the day before Pentecost we commemorate all those Orthodox Christians who have reposed in faith and in the hope of the resurrection of eternal life. The service for the Saturday of Souls or 'Soul Sabbath' is quite different from the usual Saturday matins and liturgy. The 17th kathisma is read in two stases and between the stases there is a litany for the departed during which the names of the Orthodox Christians who have fallen asleep are read. A special Evlogitaria is also sung which has the same refrain, 'Blessed art Thou O Lord, teach me Thy righteousness', as the Evlogitaria of the Resurrection but different troparia. 

It is customary for the relatives of reposed Orthodox Christians to make kolyva and bring it to be blessed at the end of the service.  There are many different recipes for kolyva depending on family and national traditions. A basic recipe is given below:

How to make kolyva

1) Ask the priest if he can perform a memorial service and arrange a date and time.

2) Find some whole wheat grain (not buckwheat or cracked wheat). Buying the wheat is the most difficult step in the whole process. Ethnic shops (Cypriot or Arab) normally have some in stock.

3) On the day before, boil the wheat (500g of wheat grain is enough for about 30 people) until it is soft. Don’t make tons of kolyva- there are no prizes for size. Drain the wheat and dry it between kitchen towels overnight.

4) On the next day, before going to Church, mix the wheat with  dried fruits, sugared peel, chopped nuts, glacĂ© cherries, pomegranate seeds etc.

5) Put the wheat and fruits in a nice glass bowl. Sprinkle a little crushed biscuit on top of the wheat — this helps to absorb any moisture.

6) Sieve some icing sugar on top of the wheat to make a layer about 1cm thick.  Press down the icing sugar gently and then decorate the top of the kolyva with nuts or glacĂ© cherries in the form of a cross.

7) When you get to Church, push a candle into the centre of the kolyva.

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