March 9, 2013. Upper Darby, Pa.- It’s become an annual tradition that simply makes you feel like your home in Epirus, Greece. The 7th annual “Tsipourovrathia” was held this past weekend at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church. Year after year, it just keeps getting better and bigger.
More than 400 people came out to celebrate the evening that featured Yiorgo Bezani on Clarinet and “The Lazaros Paraskeva Band”. The crowed filled the church hall into the early morning hours and danced the night away to the tradition sounds of Epirus, Greece, where most of the attendees hail from.
The dinner menu featured Orderves (mezes) along side roast pig this year. But many came for the classic, a traditional late night soup called “Patsa” (see link). After a lot of dancing and drinking it seems to be the food of choice. The tradition is based on that late Saturday night visit we make to a diner after being out drinking all night. What you order at the diner may vary, but for Greeks, it’s likely to be Patsa.
Served while still brewing in a giant stainless steel bucket of garlic broth and animal parts,(I didn’t bother to ask which) smiling faced connoisseurs, formed lines through the hall for the stuff. There’s really no way to describe it. You either love it or leave it for the next person who eagerly waits.
Did we forget to mention the Tsipouro? Not a chance. Tsipouro was definitively the main course and what the event was named after that so many people attend. “TSIPOUROVRATHIA” as it’s themed has become a tradition that continues to grow in the Philadelphia community. It brings Greeks together to dabble in it’s famous alcohol beverage that most non Greeks would think is Ouzo. But for real aficionados and villagers alike, being a Tsipouro drinker is like having an insiders link to Greek culture. While many of The “Epirotes Society” chapter members worked the kitchen,bar and food lines, it’s senior “Tsipouro Servers” ran the floor. Like gun fighters from an “American Western”, they dodged dancers and kids across the floor and from table to table, eager to serve. In one hand, armed with a bottle of Tsipouro, the other a stack of shot glasses, they instantly drew to the waiting patron. With a grand smile and polite nod “A la Greek”, they happily poured the guests limitless amounts of Tsipouro. Then, just as quick, they were off to the next thirsty guest, leaving a dusty trail behind.
Kostas Kravaris, President of The Epirotes Society of Philadelphia, “The Omonia” took the mic, early in the evening and briefly spoke about the history of the organization and the efforts to preserve their traditions. It was a special year for “The Omonia”. They hosted a reception and lecture celebrating “100 years of Independence of Ioannina” just a month earlier at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Philadelphia.
Well past 1:00 am, a final dance, which is now a tradition mades it’s appearance. Historically tied to the carnival season (this time of year) It’s one of the final dances many of the attendees wait to participate in and it’s called “PIPERI”. It’s erotic overtones based on ancient Greek mythology involve a performer/dancer wielding his belt and circling the crowed of participants that lay on the floor. If they improperly girate, not to the liking of the belt wielding dancer, he strikes them (gently of course). It’s theatrical for the most part and get’s laughs and applause from the audience. (While children are allowed to sit in the circle, they are never involved or struck).
With all the senses having been satisfied this evening, a nostalgic journey to the motherland was achieved again, making this a memorable “Epitoriko Style” event. Congratulations to all the volunteers, sponsors and The Epirotes Society of Philadelphia, “The Omonia” for a wonderful event.
From Cosmos Philly, best of luck till next year.
BY: Eleftherios Kostans