by Connie Gregory
The custom of greeting guests with Kerasma (welcoming treats) is a Greek tradition, which more often than not these days might be cake and tea/coffee, or even wine and mezethes. The tradition of serving Glyko (spoon sweets) as Kerasma was religiously maintained in Australia by many Greeks, and particularly Kazzies. A tradition that has slowly died out.
Making Glyko was quite labour-intensive and no Kazzie household was ever without a store of the syrupy preserve in the cupboard. There were many varieties, including grapefruit and orange rolls, sultana grapes, shredded quince, cherry, baby figs stuffed with almond etc. I remember visiting Mrs Megthalia Pallaras (nee Jackomos) at her terrace house and watching as she threaded an enormous amount of grapefruit rolls onto string in readiness for a coming name day. I also remember the coils of yellowish fly-paper dangling from the ceiling – a common thing in the early days – the flies would be attracted to the paper and remain stuck there and die.
In Kazzie homes, the disko, the tray reserved for serving guests was, more often than not, the popular Ranleigh tray, and it was laden with goodies – glyko, on small glass dishes, with a dainty spoon or fork (sometimes the silver filigree ones made in Cyprus), water or lemonade, creme de menthe liqueur for the ladies, brandy for the men, and a dish of chocolates. Children were not left out and often there was often a bowl of polly waffles, Cherry Ripes or Violet Crumbles. Pleasantries and good wishes were exchanged – how many times did I hear the wish that I would be blessed with a Gambro (groom). After that then men would be asked if they would like a beer or sometimes an Ouzo or a Greek coffee. On name days the disko would be replenished many times as visitors arrived, as nobody should be missed out. There was never a shortage of chocolates to hand around because most guests arrived with a box of chocolates (Hoadleys was a popular brand in its pretty lilac tin, as was Old Gold)
The Kazzie tradition of bringing something sweet when visiting, mostly chocolates, still persists today.
As for name days, once the disko was over, there was often feasting and dancing. I could go on about what the adolescents got up to on these occasions when the formalities were over, but what happened outside of adult supervision, stays there.