A Feminine Motif: Part 3

Isabella McCall, Columnist • ikmccall17@ehc.edu

All across Rhodes a breath was expelled from all bodies as Sunday began. The traditional, orthodox day of rest was the only day of the week their culture preserved to slow down during the harvest. Every other day of the week was devoted to olives. Each man, each woman, each child, who resided on one of the island’s innumerable olive farms spent every hour of the week walking through the trees, shaking and plucking them of their precious fruit. The only day their denomination called them away was Sunday.

On Sundays it was tradition to eat a light breakfast, go to cathedral, spend the afternoon socializing with neighbors, then retire home for a large family supper. It was the day of rest, a day for contentment. But even on Sundays the mothers and grandmothers worked.

Rather than toil in the heat of the Mediterranean sun, they toiled in the heat of their traditional kitchens. In the mornings, they woke early to prepare the kitchen and gather certain ingredients they would need later. Most of the ingredients – cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, olives- they obtained from the gardens they carefully cultivated behind their houses, but other ingredients like milk were gleaned from the goats they tended. In the afternoons they mixed these ingredients with meats like lamb, octopus and fish, eventually molding them into different dishes their families would enjoy.

Eventually when the plates of food were placed onto the table by the women, they were allowed to rest and nourish themselves. Laughing with their family members over old stories and new, they relaxed and relished in the feeling of contentment that all their family was together consuming the food they had put so much labor into. But after the meal the women returned to work, clearing the table and washing the dishes, making their home a space they felt proud of.

Every week was cycle these women repeated, a wheel turning from one chore to the next. Despite this they did not complain because this was their tradition, their feminine motif.


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