Every Saturday is a Memorial Day for the Souls. Our Church remembers and commemorates all the “fallen asleep in the Lord.” We pray for all our beloved who have died and await the General resurrection at the Second Glorious Coming of our Lord. All the departed would be resurrected and would then receive their reward for their benevolent deeds on earth.
Since the final Judgment has not yet taken place, our beloved ones experience much consolation from our prayers, as a vision of a monk tells us. He was wondering how our prayers can benefit them. Then, in a vision from God, He received the answer. The dead can no longer pray for themselves, but the prayers of the living and their love for them greatly benefits and consoles them. Their bodies are dead, but not their souls. Our love which is eternal reaches and comforts them.
We remember our beloved parents and all our relatives and friends who have asked us to pray for them. With the kolyva, the special boiled and sweetened wheat, which symbolizes resurrection, we join our prayers for them and we proclaim our Faith in the Resurrection of all. We proclaim our Faith in our Risen Lord Jesus Christ Who rose from the dead. He came to defeat our archenemies, sin and death, and grant us the certain hope of our own resurrection when we depart from this ephemeral life.
With the Saturdays of the Souls, our Church provides us with the opportunity to remember all our beloved ones and express our gratitude to them for their love for us. With our memorial prayers, we send to them a spiritual message that we love them, remember them and we pray for their eternal salvation.
Come and pray during the Memorial Saturday and bring the names of your beloved ones to commemorate them. Consider bringing your family together to make Koliva as you remember those who have passed from this life to the next.
May their memory be eternal!
RECIPE FOR KOLIVA
Kolyva (or koliva) is a traditional dish made of wheat berries that is shared as part of memorial services in the Greek Orthodox church. It symbolizes everlasting life and is based on a Bible verse, John 12:24, which reads: “…unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
Make Ahead: Day before. prepare to soak, cook and then drain and dry the wheat berries. They can then be refrigerated for up to 2 days before combining with the other ingredients.
MAKES 38 servings; makes 9 1/2 cups
- FOR THE KOLYVA
- 1 pound (2 cups) dried wheat berries
- One 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see NOTE)
- 1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (arils; from 1 fresh pomegranate)
- 1/2 cup roasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- FOR ASSEMBLY
- 2/3 cup finely crushed graham crackers or paximadia (Greek biscotti; may substitute lightly toasted almond flour or chickpea flour)
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Whole blanched almonds, Marcona almonds, Jordan almonds or yogurt-covered almonds
- A few small sprigs curly parsley, stems trimmed (optional)
For the kolyva: Soak the wheat berries for 4-6 hours or overnight in a large pot filled with water; rinse in a colander and drain well.
Place the drained berries back in the pot, cover with cold water, add the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 1 hour, until the wheat berries are tender yet still slightly chewy. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer; discard the cinnamon stick.
Rinse with cold water, then line a rimmed baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel and spread the drained wheat berries evenly on top of the pan. Place another clean dish towel over the wheat berries, pressing down lightly to help blot any remaining moisture. Let dry 4 hours. Another way of drying is to spread a sheet on top of a table and place wheat berries on top (overnight)
Transfer the cooked/dry wheat berries to a mixing bowl, along with the toasted walnuts, pomegranate and sesame seeds, raisins, nuts, parsley, orange zest and salt, tossing gently to incorporate. This is best done no more than a few hours before serving.
To serve, mound the kolyva on a large platter, then sift the crushed graham crackers over the mound; this barrier layer will help keep the confectioners’ sugar from melting into the kolyva). Sift a thick coating of the sugar over the top.
Use the whole almonds to form a cross over the top of the mound, then arrange the parsley sprigs at the bottom of the cross, if desired.
NOTE: Toast the walnuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan to avoid scorching. Cool completely before using.
Recipe: Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post
Photo: Koliva prepared by Nicholas Themelis, Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church – Shoreline, Washington