Lena Plunkett of Gig Harbor remembers the Panagiri, or celebrations of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, from her childhood in Athens.
The 59 year old emigrated from Greece in 1973 and still commemorates the feast through fasting during the preparation period, singing hymns to the Virgin Mary on the feast day and celebrating with friends and family.
In Athens, everyone in her neighborhood would prepare food for the celebration in their own homes and then take the dishes to the local bakery where they would all be cooked in a huge oven.
"It wasn't a big rock 'n' roll thing like the parties they have in Greece today," she said. "They get a little bit more rowdy now."
She can still taste the pastitsio, a greek casserole of noodle, ground beef and cream topping, lamb straight off the spit and lots of fresh bread.
"Back then, we weren't afraid of carbs," she said, laughing.
Her mother would send her to the zacharoplastia, or pastry shop, to get a fresh custard dish called galaktobouriko, the desert of the holiday for her family.
Sophronia Tomarias, 74, of Gig Harbor journeyed to Greece on the feast day when she was in her 20s. She made a pilgrimage to the island of Tinos in the Cyclades archipelago, where the famous icon of the Panagia Evangelisitria or Our Lady of Good Tiding, was found.
A number of miracles of rapid healing took place in the church in which it was housed, and thousands of the sick and the paralyzed come on the holiday seeking to be cured.
Tomaras watched them climb from the shore up hundreds of steps to the top of the church on their hands and knees, hoping the act of humilty would help them be healed.
"It was such a remarkable display of faith and piety," she said. "It was awesome."
Angie Leventis: email@example.com
____________________________ *ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: "CARBING UP: Roast lamb, sweets marked holy day Emigres still taste feasts, fervor of Greek homeland" by Angie Leventis; The Tacoma News Tribune August 16, 2004 page A-8