Those who follow the atheist movement in Greece might know that every Good Friday (April 29th in 2016) the Atheist Union of Greece has been organizing for the past 6 years an event called “Faneros Deipnos”. The name is a wordplay of the “Last Supper” which is Greek is called as “Supper in Hiding” (Mystikos Deipnos); so we organize a “Supper in Public”. The event is typically scheduled on Good Friday around 9 p.m., the time during which the various churches parade the “epitaphios” (a wooden carrying case, adorned with flowers and containing a cloth icon of Christ being lamented around as he has just been deposed from the cross). The event is meant to provocatively break the strict Good Friday fast, usually with roasts and kebabs (though participants are free to chose what they want to eat; no one is forced to eat meat or anything).
The event has so far been held successfully in Athens and Thessalonica for 5 consecutive years. Until this year. This year was different.
This was a special year for the Atheist Union of Greece, as it successfully met with the Minister of Education last summer. Ever since the AUG permanently got on the Church’s radar which has made a point to “advertise” every single atheistic event and action in Greece (regardless if it’s being organized by the AUG or not). A while back a single-day conference of the Greek Mythicists was being blasted by the ecclesiastical and para-ecclesiastical internet media as an “atheist feast” (the mayor of Athens was also disparaged for supplying the venue).
And now they have gotten wind of the “Faneros Deipnos” event and paraded it around the hellenophone internet with the appropriate embellishments and christian admonitions. The story got viral and you might guess what comes next.
This year the event has been organized in 4 cities: Athens, Thessalonica, Herakleion and Xanthi; but the Thessalonica event just hit a snag. The tavern that had been booked many days in advance just let us hang with a rather flimsy excuse. The event was subsequently reorganized at a different restaurant (with the organizer carefully explaining the situation and the type of the event). Despite the initial assurances the reservation was again dropped within a few hours. For the time being, no new venue has been announced (and with good reason).
I won’t go into the rights of the restaurant owners to drop reservation, nor to protect their reputations in the distinctly conservative climate of Thessalonica. Admittedly one of the restaurants is very well-known and I honestly doubt that they would notice any sort of decline in attendance. I can imagine though that they have gotten pestered by phone calls and I honestly think that they might have gotten a discrete call from local churches (just a hunch…) The site that started the whole shebang, “Ecclesia Online” is already doing victory laps for their success in getting the Thessalonica event postponed for the time being. Good for them, I guess.
As a friend on Facebook noted:
“The Atheist can eat whatever they want at home. As long as they don’t provoke with public suppers”
“The Gays can do whatever they want in their beds. As long as they don’t provoke with gay parades”
Find the differences.
Obviously there is a difference in importance and scope, but the parallels hold, I think.
The whole affair is made all the more ridiculous as my home city of Larissa has established a strange custom in the past 2 decades that has spread around the country: Nowadays, Christians, after the epitaphios ceremony, typically flood the restaurants, tavernas etc. for a night of excessive dining and drinking. They eat foods allowed during fasting, of course, but I do believe, I do believe I say, that this might be a tad against the spirit of self-restraint, moderation and spiritual cleansing of the Easter fasting period.
Regardless, I think that the event has already proven successful, even if it never happens. And someone should instruct the christian groups of Greece on viral marketing, publicity and the Streisand Effect.
To all Atheists and Christians alike that live in orthodox countries:
enjoy your easter holidays.
To all Atheists living in the secular world, sorry for making you cringe.