The parishioners at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Schenectady stay true to the roots of the church, which was founded by three Greek immigrants 95 years ago.
Services and songs are performed in Greek. Younger parishioners belong to a Greek dance group, and their mothers make traditional Greek costumes for them to wear.
So when the church holds its Greek Festival every year, it's not simply indulging its history for a weekend. It's sharing with the community the food and customs that are near and dear to parishioners' hearts.
We don't just say, 'Let's make ourselves very Greek,' festival co-chairman Evan Euripidou said. "This is our culture, and we want you to see how much we love it and why we love it."
Church members held their first festival more than 30 years ago. The 34th annual Greek Festival is Friday to Sunday, Sept. 11 to 13, at the Hellenic Center, 510 Liberty St., Schenectady.
You don't have to be Greek to enjoy the festival " or even St. George's. Olga Delorey is Ukranian and was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church. But when she was a girl growing up in Schenectady, there were no Russian Orthodox churches in the city. Delorey's family didn't have a car, so they took the bus downtown and attended St. George's.
Orthodox churches are essentially same except for their cultural roots, she said: "It's the religion that is the common denominator."
It was around 1960 that Delorey's family joined the church. When she got older, she still attended, but not as frequently. Then one of her parents died, and she became a more regular attendee at the church. By this point, of course, Delorey had a car and could have easily sought out a Russian Orthodox church, but she cherished the familiarity of St. George's.