art and craft of Glendi
the product of a dozen women and thousands of hours of labor
Glendi, set for Sept.
16-17 here, isn’t all about the food.
It’s hard to believe,
especially when you’re standing in line under that big white tent in
front of St. George Greek Orthodox Church on Hanover Street, drooling at
the prospect of a heaping serving of lamb and meatballs, but it’s true.
After you’ve feasted your mouth, take a walk into the Church’s
recreation room and feast your eyes — on the thousands of handmade arts,
crafts and artifacts.
The work on these
pieces is a year-round affair, in the basement of St. George Greek
Orthodox Church. The ladies of the Tuesday workshop at St. George have
spent thousands of hours working on theses items, beginning literally
the day after last year’s Glendi. Most of the women are past 80 years
old, but each Tuesday, they meet to plan, design, knit, crochet, sew and
“It’s a lot of work,
but it’s a fun atmosphere,” said Sophie Toher, one of the women on the
craft committee. “We celebrate each other’s birthdays, we keep each
The results of these
weekly meetings are visible each September: beautiful afghans, quilts,
pillows, jewelry, wreaths, floral arrangements, clothing and toys,
either for sale or donated as part of Glendi’s fundraising raffles.
Bea Varkas, Mel
Schumenan and Dora Macaronas are three of the women who have been
creating crafts for Glendi since the beginning. Varkas keeps a massive
volume of photos albums chronicling the work from year to year that goes
back to the very first Glendi.
“That’s Bessie Manolis;
she makes the traditional Greek aprons that we sell every year,” Varkas
said, pointing to a photo. “Hundreds of them she makes, all by herself.”
She points to a photo
of Mabel Covatis. Every year, Mabel makes a stunning traditional afghan
that’s raffled off in one of the most popular and highly coveted raffles
of the entire festival. “She outdoes herself every year. I don’t know
how she does it.”
She holds out a photo
of a petite woman, hugging a giant plush Dalmatian. “That’s Alice Lylis;
she makes a whole family of stuffed animal dogs to raffle every year.
All the kids want to take that home.”
Her voice grows sad at
the sight of a group photo. “That’s Dora. She is one of the founders.
She’s in a nursing home now. We miss her.”
The ladies hope that
the younger generation of women at the church will soon be able to pick
up their knitting needles and continue this tradition.
“It’s a different world
than when these women started this tradition,” said Kelly Urban, a
younger church member who helps organize the craft sale. “A lot of women
in the church are working mothers; their kids are involved in so many
activities after school. It makes it difficult for them. But I hope they
see the value in keeping this alive. It’s important.”
So, this year, after
you’ve stuffed yourself on Spanakopeta, come on inside and see what the
Tuesday workshop has been working on all year. Don’t worry; there will
be coffee and desserts there, too.