"panagia mou"

`We didn’t tell anyone about being pregnant. It was like something shameful’. They also said that at that time expectant mothers `Worked and ate just as before, and if they didn’t have any food then of course they didn’t eat’. When the time came for them to give birth, the fact was not supposed to be learned of in the village. They said that: If the men knew and went away, the pain of birth would go away and the woman wouldn’t give birth. The midwife filled her mouth with water, and when she arrived at the house of the woman who was waiting to give birth, spat it onto the woman’s breasts. That symbolized that the baby would come as easily as water. Some women, instead of water, took an egg out of their pocket and rolled it over the woman’s breast. But as Angeliki Mitsi said: When a woman was in danger the midwife would cut her nails, clean her hands thoroughly with soap and oil her hands. Then she gradually put her hands inside to see if the little one was alright. All was well if the baby was coming head first. If the baby came feet first it wasn’t good because the head stayed inside and the baby suffocated. So the midwife would put her hands inside and examine the position of the baby. Grandma Evlambia was still in her teens when her first child was born: I didn’t know where I was, from the pain! My mother-in-law had a `hand of the Virgin’ (the dried leaf of a herb) and she dropped it in some water. It was a closed hand with five fingers. `Don’t be afraid’, she told me. `I have the hand of the Virgin.’ She dropped the hand in a glass, and it opened up. I’ve always remembered it. It was a miracle. Then I believed that there was some higher force. My mother-in-law began to cross herself, saying `Panagia mou! Panagia mou!’ (Blessed Virgin! Blessed Virgin!). And when the hand opened, she finally said `Don’t be afraid, it’ll happen now’. And it did. The little one was born.

 

extract from research paper : Traditional healing in Likorrahi in the early 20th century Chrysoula Tsiou
 
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