Behold, I make remembrance …

by Lina Bogri-Petritou translated by Louisa O’Brien

During my beautiful, carefree, childhood years the preparations for the celebration of Easter began during the last week of the Carnival.

In our schools, every class, particularly the younger pupils, made The lady Lent on the Saturday (the school week was then six days!) before Cheese Fare Sunday! The materials were always the same, a sheet of cardboard, white on one side and grey on the other, a writing pad with its transparent pape r to copy the design, and some carbon paper for better results!

«”Behold, I make remembrance …”» 
In memory of the historian Georgia Koulikourdi, with respect

The bookshops at the time, Kyrios Yannis and Papori (G. Sakkiotis and Nick Karakatsanis respectively) were waiting for us from the Friday evening or Saturday morning with the cardboard all ready and rolled up in a rubber band.

Everyone had the same pattern, the shape of a woman with a long skirt, her hands crossed in front of her apron and with no mouth! She was the Lady Lent after all, and supposed to fast up until the Resurrection, so a mouth was unnecessary. Her most important characteristic, though, was that she had seven legs! And most importantly we were supposed to amputate them, cutting off one leg at the end of each week from the first Saturday of the Clean Monday weekend, and the last one on Easter Saturday. They told us at school that this design was necessary in olden times when there were no calendars for the people to count off the days of Lent, and so they had thought up the idea of this amputation!

At home, an adult would help to carefully cut out the design and hang it on the kitchen wall to await its fate. It was something my childish mind couldn’t cope with and Grandpa found the ideal solution by drawing a shoe on, which was cut at the end of the week, avoiding the horror of amputating her legs! We kept Lady Lent’s shoes and burned them all together on the charcoal when we roasted the Easter lamb.

When Kyria Zouboulia came into the neighbourhood she made a different kind of seven-legged Lady Lent with oil and flour, baked in the oven. Every Saturday morning she cut off one of the legs and ate it, dunking it in her coffee with tahini! But she was so nice and always ready to tell me stories and sew dresses for my doll to wear at Easter, that I soon forgave her for her strange coffee-dunking habits!

Wishing us all a good Lent!

Click here for the original Greek version