Saints, Feast, Family
- Traditions passed down with Cooking, Crafting, & Caring -
Saint of the day:
Patron Saint of Snow and Winter!
and Thessaloniki, Siberia, Sremska Mitrovica, Kosovska Mitrovica; soldiers; Crusades (in Roman Catholic tradition);
agriculture, peasants and shepherds ; construction workers
Saint Dimitar's Story
Tradition states, the day of St. Dimitar feast is said to be the day when the weather breaks and winter begins. According to traditional belief on this day the skies open up, after which we can expect the first snow. Dimitar is the patron saint of winter, cold and snow.
St Demetrius of Thessaloniki, a Christian martyr who lived in the 4th century, is an important saint for Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, and Russians.
According to Christian mythology, St Dimitar, "master of frost and snow", rides a red horse and the year's first snowflakes fall from his white beard.
As a forerunner of winter, in popular beliefs St Dimitar is associated with the netherworld - the world of the dead and of the forefathers. The so-called Dimitrovska Zadushnitsa (All Souls' Day) is on the Saturday preceding the St Dimitar Day.
The church holiday is in honor of the Holy Martyr St Dimitar. Legend has it that he was born in the town of Thessaloniki. After the death of his father, he became a chief of town, accepted the Christian religion and started teaching the residents of Thessaloniki that they should not believe and pray to idols but that they should open their hearts to Jesus Christ.
That was why emperor Maximillian ordered that Dimitar was thrown in a dungeon. Even locked in prison, St. Dimitar continued spreading his faith among the people and because of that he was murdered - speared in the ribs. After some time, during the digging of a ditch, St. Dimitar's holy remains, which radiated healing and fragrant "miro", were discovered.
In the church songs, St. Dimitar is glorified as a martyr, keeper of kings, man who disapproved wars and a harbor for those seeking help. These last images of Saint Dimitar find their own place in the folklore rituals.
On that day people who bear the name Dimitar, Dimitrina, Mitko or Dimo traditionally host great parties and, joined by their friends, celebrate their Name's Day.
Hagios Demetrios, Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece
Pumpkin Stuffed Flatbread
3 3/4 cups (1 lb 1 oz, 485 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sunflower oil plus extra for frying
14 ounces (400 g) winter squash such as kabocha or acorn,
seeded, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes
1/2 cup (125 ml) warm water
1 clove garlic crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the dough:
In a medium bowl, stir the flour, yeast, and 2 teaspoons salt to combine. Create a well in the center and slowly add only enough warm water to just wet the ingredients, mixing with your hands in a circular motion to distribute evenly, then add the oil. While continuously mixing, slowly add the remaining water (you might not need it all, only enough to form a firm dough) and knead until the dough is firm. You may need to slightly adjust the amount of water or flour to achieve the right consistency.
Shape the dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, and set aside to rest for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 6 equal-sized portions and shape each into a small ball with your hands. Place them on a tray lined with parchment paper with 2 in (5 cm) between them, cover with a tea towel, and set aside to rest for another 10 minutes, or until doubled in size.
To make the Pumpkin filling:
Place the squash and water in a small saucepan and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, or until the squash is soft and the water has been completely absorbed.
Mash the squash in a bowl with the garlic, coriander, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, and mix the ingredients together well. Set aside until you are ready to fill the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball of dough into a circle 4-4 1/2 in (10-12 cm) in diameter. It might take a bit of practice to roll it evenly into a perfect circle, but working from the center outwards is generally a good technique to achieve the right shape. Once rolled, place 4 tablespoons of filling on one half of the circle and spread it evenly to cover half, leaving a 1/2 in (1 cm) border. Fold the other half over the filling to form a semicircle and press the edges together to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Add enough oil to cover the base of a tawah, griddle, or heavy-based frying pan, and heat over high heat. In batches, lift the dough carefully into the pan and fry, turning once, for 4 minutes each side, or until golden brown and crisp.
Transfer to a board lined with paper towels to soak up any extra oil, then serve immediately with chutney and/or yogurt for dipping.