Greek Festival comes back to Long Beach

Jesus+crosses

Mel Ayala

This was one of many booths that sold tons of the Holy Crosses and came from the Greek Festival in Long Beach.

Melissa Ayala, Staff Writer

The city of Long Beach hosted a Greek Festival from Sept. 3-5 located at 5761 E. Colorado St., Long Beach.

The price of entry into the festival was $5 and throughout the festival, many products were being sold as fundraisers by vendors.

The festival opened each day at noon offering food, wine, music, carnival rides and merchandise for people to buy.

“Our entire festival committee and church community have been working tirelessly over the past months to put on this event for the Long Beach community,” the festival committee said.

The Long Beach Greek Festival also opened the doors of the Byzantine Greek Orthodox Church so that guests could tour.

In the dining hall, meats such as lamb and rotisserie chicken were served along with Tzatziki.

In the booths outside, Gyros and treats such as Feta Fries were being sold.

In the square just outside the church, a live band was playing and had tons of space for guests to dance along to the music.

One booth sold Greek sweets such as Galaktoboureko and Baklava, which are pastries.

Greek Dessert
Galaktoboureko, a Greek desert, is one of the food items sold in the Greek Festival on Labor Day weekend. (Melissa Ayala)

Galaktoboureko combines semolina, eggs and milk to create a custard-like treat while Baklava is made of chopped nuts within layers of delicate phyllo dough and drizzled in sweet syrup.

Another booth sold Olive wood cravings, Orthodox crosses and chalices imported from the Hold Land, which were made from the Olive trees.

According to the vendor, Muna Habash, the trees date as far back as the time of Christ and some of the trees are about 5,000 years old.

“The trees cannot be destroyed as they are the people’s livelihood there,” Habash said, “You can only trim them to keep them healthy.”

The trimmings of the Olive trees are given to the artisans to craft the creations being sold and the woodworking of the Olive trees is an ancient craft.

The wood from the Olive trees is sacred as well as the products from the tree trimmings as they are all blessed.

All of the handcrafted creations have been blessed in the Holy Land by the Catholic and Orthodox Christian Church. Each of the creations sold has a Certificate of Authenticity.

Memorabilia
This was the booth that sold chalices, Orthodox crosses and the praying Jesus at the Long Beach Greek Festival. (Melissa Ayala)

The business, created during the COVID-19 pandemic by Muna Habash and her family, is called the Holy Branch of Olive.

Holy Branch of Olive also imports first-pressing extra virgin olive oil and olive soap and the business also advertises itself on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The Long Beach Greek Festival is a cultural melting pot for people to come and enjoy the shared Greek culture.

“The festival is a good way for people to learn about Greek culture. Visiting the booths helps with understanding the culture,” Anna Mor said.

Guests of all backgrounds are welcome to enjoy authentic Greek food, Greek spirits and music.

The Greek Festival is a great and immersive way for people who are not of Greek descent to meet people who are of that background.