Information about Memorial services, along with a recipe for making koliva.

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When Should A Memorial Service Be Held?

A Memorial Service should be schedule with the priest to be conducted forty days after someone dies and on the one and three year anniversary. “SATURDAY OF SOULS” After the first year, names should be submitted for the special general memorial services conducted on four designated Saturdays called “Saturdays of the Souls.” They are: the two Saturdays preceding Great Lent; the first Saturday of Great Lent; and the Saturday before Pentecost. The Saturday of Souls dates for 2013 are: March 9, March 16, March 23 and June 22.  The Custom of Koliva When the Memorial Service is offered, it is customary for the family of the deceased to bring a dish of boiled wheat to the Church. The boiled wheat is placed on a table in the center of the nave during the Service. The wheat, known as koliva, is a symbol of the Resurrection. When speaking of the Resurrection, our Lord said: “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

In addition to the 40 day Memorial Service, Memorial Services are normally held annually on or near the anniversary of the loved one’s death. Memorials or Trisagion services (celebrated without kolyva) should be arranged by contacting your local priest at least two weeks before the desired date. Please note that memorial services are not customarily celebrated on major feast days nor (with the exception of 40-day memorials) on the Sundays of Great Lent. Everyone – especially those with loved ones whose anniversary of passing falls during Lent and Holy Week – is encouraged to remember their departed loved ones annually by submitting their names to be commemorated on the Saturdays of Souls associated with Great Lent and the celebration of Pentecost.

Memorial Service Policy of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church

Memorial services are held after Liturgy based on the following guidelines:

  • At 40 days after death, a memorial service should be scheduled on the nearest Sunday
  • At the first year anniversary of death, a second memorial service should be conducted on the nearest Sunday.
  • All other memorials after the first year of death: the deceased should be remembered at the yearly Saturday of Souls Liturgies.
  • Memorials are not to be held on the following days:
    • From the Saturday of Lazarus though the Sunday of Thomas.
    • On Feast Days of Our Lord or any Feastday of the Theotokos.

Recipe for Koliva

Boiled Wheat used for memorials

1 C hulled wheat ( lb.)

4 C water

1/2 – 3/4 C chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, etc.)

1/2 – 3/4 C raisins, golden or regular 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley or mint (optional)

1 tsp. cinnamon For the topping

1 C fine crumbs of zwieback or graham crackers

1 C sifted powdered sugar

1/4 – 1/2 lb. white Jordan Almonds (sugar-coated almonds)

The day before the Memorial Service: Rinse and drain the wheat. Cook it as you would rice, for about 1 to 1 hours. Do not overcook so that the grains explode. Since there is more water in the cooking than there would be for rice, check the wheat as it’s cooking for doneness. Pour the hot wheat into a large or two smaller colanders. When drained, put the wheat into a large bowl. Cover the wheat with very cold water to stop the cooking. Allow the wheat to drain overnight. Spread it out over baking sheets to allow it to completely dry. The morning of the Memorial Service: In a large bowl mix the wheat with the cinnamon, nuts, raisins, and parsley or mint. Transfer the mixture to a platter. Place a piece of waxed paper on top of the mixture and flatten the top so that it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle the bread crumbs or graham cracker crumbs evenly over the wheat mixture. This keeps the moisture from the powdered sugar layer. Sift the powdered sugar atop the crumb layer. Use the Jordan almonds to form a cross atop the powdered sugar. The edge of the platter can be lined with Jordan almonds if desired. Plan to be at Church before Liturgy begins so that you can give the platter and your list of names of your deceased family and friends to the priest. A candle is often placed in the platter and lit during the memorial service.