Among the Carnival festivities let’s not forget that this period is pre-lent and its ties are based on religious facts. All this week it was the theme of the Pharisee and the tax collector. As of this Sunday the theme is ‘the Prodigal Son’.
The Orthodox Church traditionally reads this story in liturgical year, on the Sunday before ‘ Meatfare Sunday’ and about two weeks before the beginning of Great Lent. To Greeks it is known as (Κυριακή του Ασώτου – Η παραβολή του ασώτου υιού)
It appears in only one of the Canonical gospels of the New Testament. According to the Gospel of Luke (Luke 15:11-32),
The story goes that a man had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth on having fun and on wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he was in need. So he found himself some work, he was sent in the fields to feed pigs. He was hungry and longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants. So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
That is the story behind our celebration today, in Zakynthos we call today ‘Pig sunday’ (gourounokiriaki’) it is a must to serve pork today and of course we say those who are overweight have their day of celebration.