A sailor so fed up with the sea! -
A sailor so fed up with the sea!

[ image by George Tatakis, story: Elias the Prophet celebration ]

My mother's name is Iliostalakti. It is not a typical greek name. My grandmother obviously had a blast of inspiration when she decided to name her first daughter. In fact, my grandma would like to name her daughter after her brother (who had tragically drowned in a river when he was young) in order to honor his memory. His name was Elias. A typical female form of this name in greek is Eliana. But my grandma wanted something more special, unique. She remembered that name that she had heard sometime in the past, written in one of the chapters of Homer's Iliad: "Iliostalakti" meaning a girl who is born out of a drop of the sun. Much better than Eliana, huh? 

In any case, the name related to the prophet Elias is heard many times in our family houses as you can imagine. On the 20th of July, Greeks (and possibly other orthodox christian countries?) celebrate this prophet whose churches and chapels are ALWAYS built on top of the mountains, especially on top of the mountains of hundreds of greek islands' mainland.

So...why this spot always?? Why always on the highest spot of the islands?? It was a question that could not remain unanswered, especially when every time we visited an island as a family, I always spotted these small white chapels on the highest point of the island's mainland. 

Well, here's the story: poor prophet Elias was in fact a seaman. All his life he had been crossing the seas as a sailor. BUT there were so many times that he almost drowned (which in fact is totally ironic as far as my grandma's brother is concerned!) that he decided to leave that life of a sailor and find a place where he could live that would be so far away from the sea that the locals would not even know the existence of the sea! So according to the tradition, one day he grabbed a paddle and started walking towards the inland of a big island. Every time he met a person, he asked "do you know what this thing that I am carrying is?" and as long as the answer was " a paddle" he knew that he was still close to the sea. At one point he came across a shepherd and when he asked him about the paddle, the man replied "a piece of wood". "Here is where I want to live" the prophet thought. So he put the paddle down and started building his home.

Well, I bet that house had a fantastic view...

#celebration #summer #chapels #elias the prophet #islands #greece