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The twelve-day cycle of Christmas, New Year's and the Light celebrations closes with St. John's Day on January 7th. This is the first celebration on the calendar and it’s for those with the name Giannis. The name is celebrated several times a year because the name John is given after Christ’s apostle John the Baptist. There is also John the Theologian, Chrysostom, the Eleon, the Russian, the Sinai and many other forms in Orthodox religion.The twelve-day cycle of Christmas, New Year's and the Light celebrations closes with St. John's Day on January 7th. This is the first celebration on the calendar and it’s for those with the name Giannis. The name is celebrated several times a year because the name John is given after Christ’s apostle John the Baptist. There is also John the Theologian, Chrysostom, the Eleon, the Russian, the Sinai and many other forms in Orthodox religion.


There are over thirty proverbs about Giannis. In Greece, they say, “There is no home without a Giannis” and “The home without Giannis makes no progress". For the one who is self – centered and only looks out for himself, "John yells and John drinks." On a disagreement between two people, “What are you doing, John?” “I’m sowing beans." For anyone who does not change behavior, "What’s up with you, John?” “The same thing I've always had." When they are afraid of each other, "John is afraid of the summer and the summer is afraid of John."  There are many, many more.There are over thirty proverbs about Giannis. In Greece, they say, “There is no home without a Giannis” and “The home without Giannis makes no progress". For the one who is self – centered and only looks out for himself, "John yells and John drinks." On a disagreement between two people, “What are you doing, John?” “I’m sowing beans." For anyone who does not change behavior, "What’s up with you, John?” “The same thing I've always had." When they are afraid of each other, "John is afraid of the summer and the summer is afraid of John."  There are many, many more.In Crete, the old observers say that on this day, parents of recently baptized children should invite their relatives and the child’s godparents for a meal because St. John the Baptist was Christ's godfather.For us in Crete, the godparents, parents and their children have a special relationship that is superior to kinship. It is not confined to the child and their guardian but creates a new environment for the wider family. The parents and godparents seal a time-tested friendship that will be tested in many ways, from mentally bonding and supporting friends in difficult times to sharing advice that will always be remembered.The feast of St. John's Day on January 7 has not really survived in recent years. In the past, long-distance trips to the table were made. The fact that it is not adhered to these days is due to the fact that some people in society, but mainly politicians or Members of Parliament, have multiple godchildren so it becomes impossible to sit and eat together at just the one table and so this tradition has faded over time.But what has kept for years, regardless of the feast, is the strength of the relationships between the two families of the parents and godparents. For such a festive table my suggestion is a goat with soft goat’s milk yoghurt!

Ingredients:
1.5 kg of lamb or goat
100ml olive oil
100ml white wine
150g ‘anthogala’ (goat’s milk)
Salt

Method:
First of all let's say what ‘anthogala’ is. It's as the word suggests, the blossom of the milk. It’s the curd created on the top of the sheep or goat milk after boiling. It’s slowly collected in small quantities and stored in specially made cages. Let us mention that you also make butter from the flower-milk as well as the famous ‘stakas’ with the addition of wheat flour.
This recipe was made by the shepherds in their paddocks in the Lassithi Mountains when they collected the first milk. Of course we can find it all year round in supermarkets from different local companies.
In a saucepan, place the olive oil and allow to warm. Add the lamb in small portions and allow to brown and color on both sides.
Pour in the wine, salt and lower the temperature to half. Cover the pot and cook for about 1.5 - 2 hours. Check it from time to time and shake the pot if needed.
When ready, mix the zest with the juice and pour onto the meat.
Add some pepper.

Good luck!!!
(I thank the folklorist Leonidas Koudoumogiannakis for the proverbs and information he gave me about the forgotten Cretan habits from the past.)

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