January 10, 2013

0459 GREECE - An Orthodox Christian priest riding on a donkey

Today, Greece is the only country in the world where an Eastern Orthodox Church is clearly recognized as a state religion, being appreciating, in general, that the identity of modern Greek nation is ethnoreligious. Given that the Greece was an early center of Christianity, and the Byzantine Empire was the result of the synthesis between Hellenistic culture, Christianity and the Roman state structure, no wonder that often is put the equal sign between "Greek" and "Christian Orthodox". So this picture with a priest riding on a donkey is representative for Greece, at least for the rural areas.

This old priest, with tied-back long hair and beard, wears a dark blue undercassock (rason), a dark blue overcassock (exo-rason) with long and wide sleeves, fitted like shirtsleeves, and a "chimney-pot" style hat. During the Byzantine Empire, the cassocks were only black or white, but under the Ottoman rule, the moslem clergy reserved the right to wear white or black, thinking to humiliate the Christian clergy by forcing them to wear bright colored clothing (even if the Orthodox Church has six liturgical colors: white, green, purple, red, blue, and gold). Once the Greek Church was free, the practice of wearing colored cassocks was largely abandoned, but dark blue is frequently used.

Regarding the donkey, in the Eastern tradition it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of war. A king came riding upon a horse when he was bent on war and rode upon a donkey when he wanted to point out he was coming in peace. Therefore, Jesus' entry to Jerusalem in Palm Sunday symbolized his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king.

About the stamps

The first stamp is part of a series named Primary School Reading Books, which depict part of the artwork from the covers of popular reading and alphabet primary school books of the academic years of the past. Issued on September 5, 2011, the series contain six stamps
• 0.02 EUR - it's on the postcard
• 0.20 EUR
• 0.60 EUR
• 0.75 EUR - it's on other postcard
• 1.00 EUR
• 3.50 EUR

The second is one of the two of the series Greek Islands - Personal Stamps, issued on October 14, 2010:
• steps
• paper boat - it's on the postcard

The third is part of the definitive set Riches of the Greek seas, about which I wrote here.

The fourth (and my favorite) belongs to the series Destination... Greece, issued on June 22, 2011 and consisting of five stamps with the values 0.01 EUR (it's on this postcard), 0.03 EUR (it's on other postcard), 0.60 EUR, 0.75 EUR, and 4.00 EUR.

sender: Milda Kriukaite (direct swap)
sent from Piraeus (Greece), on 30.11.2012


  1. Very cool postcard! I like the priest's look and the stamps have vivid colors!

    Btw, this is Zina! I was doing a search about Japan and your blog popped up in the image results! Love that you research about the place your postcard comes from. I do that too with my Postcrossing officials!

    Great blog!!

    1. Thank you very much for the appreciation. I'm glad to meet people who think like me. :)