One of the best movies of all time has to be “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Partly because it is a funny and relatable story of a big, family wedding, but also because you get a taste of the passion for life and family that the traditional Greek family invokes.
The Greek culture’s passion for life also comes through in their cuisine. A mixture of Mediterranean flavors and “feel good” comfort style cooking has become a favorite food of people around the globe.
Luckily, for Greek food lovers like myself, this is Greek Food Festival season. Greek Food Festivals are held at this time of year partly in observance of the holiday Agios Pnevmatos (also known as Monday of the Holy Spirit or Pentecost).
According to the biblical story, Agios Pnevmatos takes place 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ, when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and enabled them to speak in any language to spread the word of God.
This three day Greek celebration changes dates each year depending on when Orthodox Easter falls, but always takes place in late spring, usually May or June. In Greece, it is the second largest holiday of the summer, similar to the United States celebration of Memorial Day Weekend. But in the U.S., the primary reason for springtime Greek festivals is to give members of the Greek community a chance to share and celebrate their heritage with others.
Locally, there are several Greek Food Festivals taking place in the coming month for you to experience.
On May 17 and 18, St. Phillip Greek Orthodox Church, located at 500 West Hollis St. in Nashua, NH is hosting their annual Greek Food Festival starting at 11 a.m. until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Experience authentic, homemade Greek food while enjoying Greek music and dancing. Admission is free, and this event will take place rain or shine.
Also on the weekend of May 17, 18 and 19, you can visit the Greek Food Festival at Annunciation Church, located at 457 Oak St. in Brockton. Friday afternoon until midnight is “Gyro Night” (Gyro is a Greek style kebab wrap). There will also be a variety of pastries and live music on hand to enjoy.
On Saturday, from 11 a.m. until midnight, a full Greek menu will be featured, plus a yard sale and live Greek music. Sunday also offers a full Greek menu, yard sale, and D.J. music from noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free, rain or shine.
The Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, located at 25 Father John Santos Way in Lowell, is hosting Grecian Festival ’19 on Friday, May 31, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday, June 1, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Enjoy authentic Greek food, guided church tours, and live music. There will also be plenty of kids activities and raffle prizes. Admission and parking are free.
The Annual Greek Festival, hosted by St. Athanasius the Great Greek Orthodox Church, 4 Appleton St. in Arlington, runs four days from May 30 through June 2. Thursday, May 30, features gyros and pastries from 5 to 9 p.m., and a full menu of Greek favorites will be available Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Enjoy live Greek music, dancing, Greek wine and beer, church tours and children's activities. Admission is free, rain or shine under the big tent.
The 2019 Woburn Greek Festival is held on June 6 through 9, at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, located at 70 Montvale Ave. in Woburn. The festival kicks off with Gyro Night on Thursday, June 6, from 4 to 10 p.m. A full Greek menu is available Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy performances of live Greek music and Greek dance troupes. Shop the vendors marketplace while the kids join in one of the many children’s activities. Admission is free, and parking and shuttle service is available. To view tweets or posts of this event, use #getyourgreekon and #bringthecommunitytogether.
A word of advice for the Greek food lover… Pace yourself. There are plenty of opportunities this month to enjoy your favorite, authentic Greek dishes. And for the less adventurous eater, attending a local Greek Food Festival is the perfect opportunity to sample something new, and discovery a new found passion for life, love and authentic Greek food!