Tsoureki Easter Bread – Greek Cooking Challenge Recipe 16

Tsoureki #GreekCookingChalllenge

Easter is just around the corner and it’s always a fun time to get in the kitchen and do some baking. Tsoureki is a traditional Greek bread that is made at Easter time. I have never made it on my own before – this year will be the first time for me.

Usually I bake Tsoureki with the help of my Aunty. However my Aunty always seems to do most of the cooking I tend to just watch from a distance or take photos. Making Tsoureki on my own this year will be a huge challenge because I know that it’s is not an easy task.

I do not suggest that you make Tsoureki on your own if this is the very first time for you (or unless you have a Thermomix). This recipe is best for people who are experienced bakers and bread makers or for those who have made Tsoureki before. 

Easter cooking can be lots of fun so ask a friend or family member to come over and cook with you. Remember to take a photo of your Tsoureki (whether you made it or even if you are just eating it!) and tag your post with the hash tag #GreekCookingChallenge.

You might also like last year’s Easter recipe: Red Eggs For Greek Easter. Continue reading

40 Days After Birth Of A Child ~ Sarantismos

Anna & Her Baby 40 Day Blessing in an Orthodox Church40 Days After The Birth Of A Child 

A Greek mother is often “expected” to stay at home with her newborn baby for the 40 days after the birth of a child. She doesn’t leave the house, she doesn’t go grocery shopping and if she is lucky enough to have family support, she doesn’t cook or clean or do any of her normal household duties. 

The only time that a new mother can leave the house is if she needs to take the baby to the doctors. In fact, she is not even allowed/permitted to go to Church during these 40 days. 

Old Fashion Superstition

Up until recently, I thought that this tradition was old-fashioned and superstitious. I published a post about it a little while ago called: Yiayia’s Advice To Protect A New Mother From The Evil Eye. This post talks about the Evil Eye (to mako mati) and how to protect the mother and child.

Protecting The Child

To protect the child from the evil eye, the child will often wear a little blue bead with a black dot inside of it. It looks like an eye – the mati. I have some beautiful mati baby pins available for sale on the Greek Wedding Shop. You can take a look at them by clicking this link: http://www.greekweddingshop.com/baby-pins/

It is important to note that wearing a blue mati is a Greek cultural tradition. This practice is not a religious tradition and it is not endorsed by the Orthodox Church.

A Religious Perspective

A woman is not allowed to attend Church during the 40 days after the birth of a child. This is for very specific reasons which I am yet to research and learn more about. I need to discuss it with my Priest and find out exactly why a mother can not attend Church.

Here is what I know so far:

  • The mother can not attend Church for 40 days after the birth of a child
  • The mother is ‘not clean’ during this period because she is still bleeding and this is one of the main reasons why she can not attend Church. 
  • At the end of the 40 days, the mother will attend Church and ask for a special blessing. This blessing is known as Sarantismos (Σαραντισμός) or the 40 day blessing.

Do you know any other reasons why a mother can not attend Church during this time?

Please share in the comments.

Anna and Her Baby - 40 Day Blessing in an Orthodox Church

A Modern Perspective

I’m pregnant at the moment and lots of people have been asking me if I will “do the 40 days”. At first I thought that it all seemed a bit silly and as I said before ‘old fashioned’. However after a bit of research I have changed my mind.

According to all of the pregnancy journals and websites that I have been reading, the 6-8 weeks after the birth of a baby is a very crucial time for both mother and child. Doctors, midwives and health professionals advice the following:

  • A newborn child is sensitive to bright lights and loud noises during its first 6 weeks. 
  • Parents are told that the baby should not have any visitors (who are sick or who have not been vaccinated) for the first 6 weeks
  • A child receives its first vaccination at 6 weeks 
  • A new-born baby is at high risk of infection during its first 6 weeks.
  • A mother needs to rest and take care of herself for 6 weeks to ensure optimal recovery
  • Post natal depression is likely to occur in some mothers during the first 6 weeks after birth.
  • Couples should avoid sexual relations for at least 6 weeks
  • A new mother should avoid driving for 6 weeks and if she needs to drive then she will often have to check with her insurance company before doing so.
  • It takes at least 6 weeks for a new mother to learn and to feel comfortable with breastfeeding – if not longer.
  • There is a need for bonding time between mother and child, especially during the first 6 weeks.

All of the information that I have been receiving suggests that the “safe” time for most activities occurs at 6 weeks. This is about “40 days”.

In my opinion, making a conscious effort to stay at home with my new-born baby makes a lot of sense. It will give the baby time to get used to his/her environment and it will give me time to rest and recover.

I don’t know how strict I will be and I don’t know if I will go a bit crazy locked up in the house all day long, but I’m willing to give it a go.

Did you stay at home for 40 Days? 

Please share your story in the comments.

Photo Credit: The beautiful photos in this post have been sourced from the website Just Mommies. The mother’s name is Anna and she uploaded these images to a public forum. I have tried to contact Anna with no luck. 

Related posts you might love:


Sia Aristidou is fascinated by the rituals and traditions celebrated in Greek culture. She writes about love, marriage, family and tradition and she sells beautiful handmade wedding gifts at the Greek Wedding Shop.
Connect with Sia on Facebook or say hello on Twitter. You may also like to subscribe to the Greek Weddings & Traditions blog or join the Greek Cooking Challenge.

Marriage Is Not Allowed At Easter Time In The Greek Orthodox Church

Greek Orthodox Wedding - Nek Vardikos Photography

There are certain days throughout the year when marriage is not allowed to be performed in the Greek Orthodox Church. This includes the 40 days of Great Lent before Easter. 

Here are the calendar dates when a marriage can not be performed:

  • During Great Lent, Holy Week & Pascha – Easter
  • August 1-15 – Dormition Fast and Feast
  • August 29 – Beheading of St. John the Baptist
  • September 14 – Exaltation of the Holy Cross
  • December 13-25 – Nativity
  • December 24-25 – Christmas
  • January 5 & 6 – Theophany
  • Pentecost
  • The day before or on the day of any Great Feast
  • Not on any fast days or during fasting seasons

What Should You Do If You Want To Be Married During This Time? 

If a couple wishes to be married on any of these days they must first seek permission.

Here is what you can do:

  • Check your calendar and see if there are any other dates that might be suitable for your wedding.
  • Have 1 or 2 back up dates in your mind… just in case.
  • Speak to your Priest and check the availability of the date.
  • If your ‘ideal’ wedding date falls on a day when marriage is not permitted then you can seek special permission to do so.
  • Only some exceptions are granted. This is done on a case by case basis.
  • Have a list of reasons why you wish to have your wedding on the desired date.
  • If your Priest accepts your suggestion, he will need to write a letter on your behalf to the Hierarch to ask for permission. 
  • Permission can only be granted by the Diocesan Bishop.

For more information about marriage in the Orthodox Church please visit GOARCH

Photo Credit: Nek Vardikos Photography

Related posts you might love:


Sia Aristidou is fascinated by the rituals and traditions celebrated in Greek culture. She writes about love, marriage, family and tradition and she sells beautiful handmade wedding gifts at the Greek Wedding Shop.
Connect with Sia on Facebook or say hello on Twitter. You may also like to subscribe to the Greek Weddings & Traditions blog or join the Greek Cooking Challenge.

Fakes Lentil Soup – Greek Cooking Challenge Recipe 15

Fakes Greek Cooking Challenge

Fakes is Greek Lentil Soup. It is a dish that can be made all year round but it is especially popular during the cooler months and also during Nisteia (fasting days).

Vegetarians and vegans love Greek fakes because it is a very good source of protein and because it tastes so good.

I want to make Fakes this month for a few different reasons:

1. Easter is around the corner and we are officially in the fasting period of the Greek Orthodox Church – Great Lent.

2. Fakes is a really tasty dish to eat while fasting during Nisteia.

3. I am currently a little low on iron and need a good nutritional kick (this is because I’m pregnant and the baby needs lots of Iron to help grow and develop).

4. We call our unborn baby fakes. Ok, don’t laugh but it’s true. My husband and I have been trying to fall pregnant for a really long time. On the day that we found out that we were blessed with a baby in my belly the little embryo was the size of a lentil. The word for lentil in Greek is Fakes and so automatically we started calling our little one “Fakes” and the nickname has stuck.

How to Be A Good Greek Cook - Join the #GreekCookingChallenge in 2014

Learn How to Be A Good Greek Cook – Join the #GreekCookingChallenge in 2015

Are you an official challenger yet?

Join the mailing list here: Greek Cooking Challenge 

*Only official challengers will have the chance to win prizes or receive special offers.

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Kollyva + Prosforo Recipe For Soul Saturday

Yiayia Eleni's Kollyva RecipeSoul Saturday is a special day in the Orthodox Church to remember those who have fallen asleep. There are several Soul Saturdays commemorated throughout the calendar year including today which falls on the Saturday of Meatfare Week (Tsiknopempti).

On this day, it is tradition to prepare Kollyva (boiled wheat) and Prosforo (bread) and to take it to Church. Yesterday, I received a phone call from Yiayia Eleni. She invited me over to help her cook and I was grateful for the opportunity to have another cooking lesson. (Here is a link to my first cooking lesson: We made Eliopitas – Greek Olive Bread!)

Yiayia Eleni wanted to make both Prosforo and Kollyva. We made both recipes at the same time so it did get a bit confusing for me when I tried to write down all of the steps. Yiayia Eleni doesn’t use a recipe from a book. She uses the ‘bitsa’ style of cooking – like most Yiayias tend to do. Bitsa style cooking stands for ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’. 

If you are looking for a Kollyiva recipe that has accurate measurement and instructions then you might want to take a look at another post i wrote: How To Make Koliva – Remembering Those Who Have Fallen Asleep.

Here is my best attempt to document the day: Continue reading

Moussaka – Greek Cooking Challenge Recipe 14

Greek Cooking Challenge: Moussaka

Moussaka is a classic Greek dish, perfect for any occasion where there are a large group of guests attending, such as family dinner, birthday parties or name day celebrations. If you are cooking “just for two” then you might want to cut up the Moussaka into a few smaller pieces, store them in containers and then eat it for lunch throughout the week. 

Our feature chef Jennifer Pallian from the blog Foodess describes Moussaka as your mum’s shepherd’s pie meets your mum’s lasagne. Moussaka is traditionally baked with potatoes, eggplant, meat and cheese which certainly makes the dish “hard core comfort food”.

How to Be A Good Greek Cook - Join the #GreekCookingChallenge in 2014

Learn How to Be A Good Greek Cook – Join the #GreekCookingChallenge in 2015

Are you an official challenger yet?

Join the mailing list here: Greek Cooking Challenge 

*Only official challengers will have the chance to win prizes or receive special offers.

Continue reading

Why Can’t Women Dive For The Cross? Theophania: The Orthodox Blessings

Theophania Winners

What is Theophania?

Theophania (also known as the Holy Epiphany) is one of the most important days in the Greek Orthodox calendar. It is an Orthodox Feast Day celebrating the baptism of Jesus. Continue reading

The Orthodox Reason Why You Should NOT Call Vasilopita “The New Years Day Bread”

IMG_2807

For years and years, I thought that Vasilopita was a cake that you cut on the 1st January to celebrate a Happy New Year. However according to the Orthodox Church, this mis-conception is completley wrong.

Vasilopita is not a New Years Day Cake!

Vasilopita is a cake that is made to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Basil and New Years Day is actually celebrated on the 1st of September!!

Confused? So, was I. Here is some more information that might help explain things:

Continue reading

Our Baby Announcement!

Our Baby Announcement from Aspasia Mavris on Vimeo.

Origionally my husband and I wanted honeymoon babies. That didn’t happen. In fact, the doctors told us that we only had a 0.01% chance of having children at all. Despite the odds, we never lost Faith. To be perfectly honest, I believe that our Faith developed to a whole new level during our struggle. We knew in our hearts that one day our prayers would be answered. Finally that day has come and we have been blessed with a baby :-)

We are over the moon with excitiment!!

I still pinch myself every morning to make sure that I’m not dreaming. Then the morning sickness kicks in and I am reminded of how real this really is. We are going to have a baby.

My husband and I wanted to do something special to announce our exciting baby news to our family and friends. However we couldn’t agree on how to do it. I wanted to make a balloon video and he wanted to take a photo with the caption “ICE ICE BABY”. He didn’t like my idea and I didn’t like his, so we agreed to create both ideas.

Here is the longer version of the baby announcement (my idea):

Our Baby Announcement – The Longer Version from Aspasia Mavris on Vimeo.

Here is the ice ice baby photo (my husband’s idea):

Ice Ice Baby Announcement

Which baby announcement do you like better?

Related posts you might love:


Sia Aristidou is fascinated by the rituals and traditions celebrated in Greek culture. She writes about love, marriage, family and tradition and she sells beautiful handmade wedding gifts at the Greek Wedding Shop.
Connect with Sia on Facebook or say hello on Twitter. You may also like to subscribe to the Greek Weddings & Traditions blog or join the Greek Cooking Challenge.

Kourabiedes Christmas Butter Cookies – Greek Cooking Challenge Recipe 12

How to Be A Good Greek Cook - Join the #GreekCookingChallenge in 2014

How to Be A Good Greek Cook – Join the #GreekCookingChallenge in 2014

Greek Cooking Challenge

December 2014

KOURABIEDES – CHRISTMAS BUTTER COOKIES

Kourabiedes are the ultimate Christmas cookie. Probably because the are dusted with lots of icing sugar and reminds us of snow but also because they wrap up in to lovely gifts and are great to eat with a cup of coffee after a massive Christmas lunch or dinner. These shortbread biscuits are usually made from butter and almonds but I have also seen recipes that use peanut butter and chocolate. For the purposes of this cooking challenge, we are going to keep things very simple. However if you are keen to try something new then I highly encourage you to make something fun and different. You can experiment with flavours or if you want to stay in the safe zone like me, you can simply experiment with different shapes.

If you haven’t already definitely join our mailing list for the

Greek Cooking Challenge!

Only official challengers will have the chance to win prizes or receive special offers.

Continue reading