Off the Beaten Trail: In Search of St. Nicholas in Russia

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Velikoretsky St. Nicholas icon, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

 

 

Santa Claus is not from the North Pole. He is based on Nicholas, the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Myra, Lycia. This Greek/Byzantine city today is called Demre, in the Antalya province of Turkey.

            I had the unique opportunity of visiting Russia in late September through early October 2015, seeing the Byzantine Orthodox civilization of the North.  I visited sites of  Byzantine civilization in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novgorod, the birthplace of Russian Orthodox Christianity. At Christmas 2015, there is a worldwide travel alert to Russia for a possible risk of travel due to increased terrorist threat (November 23, 2015).1   I managed to get out of Russia in safety.

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The Tretyakov Gallery has a St. Nicholas icon from the 12th-early 13th century.

A whopping 72% of the  Russian adult population identified themselves as Orthodox Christians in 2008.Every Greek family has a member or friend called Nick. Russian iconography that stems back to the 10th century gave me a new perception of this ethnically Greek saint.

My search for St. Nicholas began at St. Basil’s Cathedral (Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat)  Museum in Red Square, Moscow.  St. Nicholas of Velikoretskoye was in an illuminated case. It is a 16th century tempera on wood icon It shows St. Nicholas with scenes of his life.  In 1555 the icon was brought from Vyatka to Moscow. The name Velikoretsky  means “of the big rivers”.  St. Basils Cathedral is divided into ten inner churches. The southern church was consecrated in honor of  the Velikoretsky  St. Nicholas  icon.

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St. Nicholas of Zaraisk, Tretyakov Gallery

We did not have the time to visit St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral in St. Petersburg. It is associated with the Russian Navy and has two churches. The lower St. Nicholas church is located on the first floor. The main shrine has a 17th century Greek icon of St. Nicholas with a relic.8  The Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood has an 1890’s St. Nicholas the Wonder worker icon. Our main focus in St. Petersburg was the Hermitage, Peterhof Gardens and Catherine the Great’s Palace.

The Tretyakov Gallery has a St. Nicholas icon from the 12th-early 13th century, Tempera on Wood. This is the earliest surviving Russian icon. This is the Novgorod icon painting style, when Christianity was beginning. St. Nicholas of Zaraisk with scenes of his life is of the Rostov-Suzdal School of the late 13th-early 14th centuries. The only full length fresco of St. Nicholas with an open gospel, 1108-1113 A. D.  is displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery.

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Only full length fresco of St. Nicholas with open gospel, 1108-1113 A. D., Tretyakov Gallery.

On a visit to the “Decorated Icon Exhibit” at Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow, and jeweled St. Nicholas icon was exhibited at the Fine Arts Center. The Cathedral is the largest Orthodox Church in the world. There is a side chapel of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker with a prominent wall icon. “It is located in the south part of the gallery, for the country where St. Nicholas lived. Christianity came to Russia from the south, so the paintings in St. Nicholas’ side chapel illustrate the history of Christianity from the 3rd to the 9th centuries AD, before Russia’s’ conversion to it. It is here that one can see…..the theme of the Seven ecumenical Councils. St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, an ardent defender of Orthodox Christian doctrines, took part in the first Ecumenical council. That’s why these subjects are to be found next to those concerned with his pious life and Christian virtues in his chapel.”3         

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A jeweled St. Nicholas icon, Fine Arts Center, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow.

  The art of the Moscow goldsmiths in the 16th century is displayed in the Armory, Moscow Kremlin Museum. The art of fine enameling with large uncut stones is displayed in icons. “The folding icon of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker…is silver, but its cover is gold decorated with gems and pearls.”4

                We did not have the time to visit St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral in St. Petersburg. It is associated with the Russian Navy and has two churches. The lower St. Nicholas church is located on the first floor. The main shrine has a 17th century Greek icon of St. Nicholas with a relic.5  The Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood has an 1890’s St. Nicholas the Wonder worker icon. Our main focus in St. Petersburg was the Hermitage, Peterho  Gardens and Catherine the Great’s Palace.

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Side chapel of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow.

            An eight hour round trip from St. Petersburg took us to Novgorod, near the Swedish border. “The Novgorod State Museum’s collection of early Russian painting is unquestionably one of the finest in the world…Highlights from the earliest period (11th to 13th centuries) include ..St. Nicolas of Myra in Lycia (St. Nicholas of Lipno). These are prototypical images of the 14th and 15th centuries. ‘St. Nicholas of Lipno’ icon painted by Aleksa Petrov in 1294 is the earliest dated Russian icon. The fact that it bears the artists’s signature gives it unique historical significance.” 6  A circular icon of St. Nicholas that is dated 13th-14th century? possibly 16th century is the first icon that came into view when we entered the icon section.The site http://www.novgorod.ru/english/read/information/icons-sorted/ shows St. Nicholas icons from the middle 13th to end of 16th century.

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Folding St. Nicholas icon, 16th century, Armory, Moscow

            Early Russian painting was one of the most significant achievement of this civilization. Byzantium with its capital in Constantinople had a unique splendor of artistic Christian art that impressed the Slavic tribes. The early Russians believed that they “knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth for surely there is no such splendor or beauty anywhere on earth. We know not how to describe to you. The only thing we are certain about if that God makes His dwelling among the people there and their service is better than in any other country. We can not forget the beauty.”7 The Russian icon for centuries has been striving to reflect the ideal beauty of the heavenly world. 8

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Circular icon of St. Nicholas that is dated 13th-14th century, possibly 16th century, Novgorod State Museum.

Nicolas, Bishop of Myra, has always been the most admired saint, according to the book, “The Russian Icon” by the editorial Board of the Russian Orthodox Church. He prays for all Christians, helps people in misfortunes, protects travelers and quickly defends those to whom injustice has been made. His veneration in Early Russia was almost as great as that of Christ and Mary. Numerous churches were dedicated to St. Nicholas. A large quantity of icons were created in his memory. Russian proverbs show a deep faith in his power.9 Our roots are in Greece, a country plundered by conquests. My 2015 Russian trip showed me that our Byzantine inheritance lived on after the fall of Constantinople with, as the next generation of my family says, “with the Greeks of the North”.

References:

  1. http://moscow.usembassy.gov/warden.html
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/11/religion-russia-orthodox-christian_n_4766753.html
  3. “Cathedral Of Christ The Savior (Ivan Fiodorov Printing Company: Russia, 2005), pp. 25-9.
  4. S. Goncharenko and V.I. Narozhnaya, “THE ARMORY: A guide” (Red Square Publishers:Moscow, 2012), PP.36-9.
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Nicholas_Naval_Cathedral
  6. N, Grinev, “NOVGOROD THE GREAT” (Ivan Fiodorov Art Publishers: St. Petersburg,2004), pp. 48-50.
  7. Editorial Board of the Russian Orthodox Church, “Russian Icon” (P-2 Art Publishers: St. Petersburg,, 2011) p. 1,
  8. “Russian Icon”, pp. 2-3.
  9. “Russian Icon” p. 9.

https://picasaweb.google.com/105743188183721570894/December142015-

Links:

http://www.tretyakovgallery.ru/en/- Tretyakov gallery

http://www.novgorod.ru/english/

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Timoleon Kokkinos: Educating the Mind and Heart

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My late wife Anastasia inspired my work with two daughters, Eleni and Calliope

“Never Discourage Anyone Who Continually Makes Progress No Matter How Slow”

– Plato

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Educator/Administrator Timoleon Kokkinos

This is the key of educator Timoleon Kokkinos success as a teacher of generations of Greek American students of Astoria, New York. Mr. Kokkinos is an immigrant from a volcanic island, Nisyros. He grew up under Italian and German occupation. Under the governorship of De Vecchi (1936–40), whose Italianization efforts became brutal. The Italian language became compulsory in education and the public life, with Greek being only an optional subject in schools. The Italian authorities also tried to limit the power of the Greek Orthodox Church without success by trying to set up an autonomous Dodecanesian church. Fascist youth organizations such as Opera Nazionale Balilla were introduced on the islands, and the Italianization of names was encouraged by the Italian authorities.1 This was the background of Timoleon Kokkinos” childhood.

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We were blessed with four grandchildren, Theologos and Timoleon Tiliakos and Anastasia and George Tsopelas.

Nisyros islanders began a mass immigration to the United State in the 1960’s, when the quota was eliminated on Eastern Europeans. Astoria began a rebirth. Nisyrians, who suffered to keep their Greek language, culture and Greek Orthodox Church, helped to create a strong education system. Timoleon Kokkinos was an immigrant educator who helped make this happen. “Mr. Timoleon Kokkinos, assisted me in the building of St. Demetrios High School in Astoria, NY.,” said President Demosthenes Triantafillou of the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus”. Educator Kokkinos was one of several educators with Principal Triantafillou who created a kindergarten book for the Greek program of St. Demetrios in 1979. At the time materials did not exist. The book is entitled “Mathaino Ellinika” (I Learn Greek): First Book for Kindergarten. It was part of a series of three books.

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Mr. Kokkinos (left) with Stella Kokolis, Director Emmanuel Hatziemmanuel, Dr. John Siolas, Theodore Papadimitriou and Elias Diakolios. Greek Orthodox of America Archdiocesan Board.

The educator was the fourth of six children of Demetrios and calliope Kokkinos. He was graduated from the elementary school of Nikaion, Nisyros. The family moved to Rhodes. The Kokkinos family attended the Middle School of Venetokleion. He graduated with honors. Competition to enter college is fierce. Mr. Kokkinos was accepted to the Pedagogical Academy of Rhodes. The motivated student graduated with Arista (Top) honors. Military service is mandatory in Greece, where young men receive a marine training. He served as an officer in his birthplace (Nisyros). The young teacher worked as an educator for four years in the elementary schools of Cephalonia, Greece

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Mr. Kokkinos (center) at Prometheus Greek Teachers Association event.

In 1962, he immigrated to America for post education. He is a graduate of Columbia University with a Bachelor of Science degree in curriculum and teaching. His first school was the Greek-American day and afternoon schools of St. Spyridon of Washington Heights. Afterwards he instructed students at the Cathedral School of Manhattan, New York. The educator began his service at St. Demetrios Day Afternoon Schools of Astoria in 1974. Mr. Kokkinos served as Principal of the Greek Afternoon School of St. Demetrios of Astoria from 1996 till 2017. He worked as Principal of the Nisyrian Greek School for over 25 years.

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Mr. Kokkinos with St. Demetrios of Astoria students in the 1980’s during a visit of His Eminence of Archbishop Iakovos.

“I continue working for the advancement of the cultural and educational life of the Greek-American community,” he said in a recent interview. “Laboring in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is a rewarding and enriching experience. The faith of the parents in my work is gratifying. I will continue to do everything in my power to be of service. I will use my wisdom and skills to carry out my responsibilities in the largest Greek American community of New York outside of Greece.”

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Mr. Kokkinos (1st row, 3rd person, left to right) with Archdiocesan Board, 1990’s.

Mr. Kokkinos is a founding member of the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus”.  He served as President of “Prometheus” in 1985-86. The organizations he is an active member included: founding member, secretary for 8 + years of the Federation of Greek American Educators; two terms as secretary of the Nisyrian Society “St. John the Theologian”; secretary of the Federation of Dodecanese Islands; member of the committee for Curriculum writing of the University of Crete.

“Our children are our most cherished possession,” he explained. “They are our joy and hope for the future.” His awards are the following: January 1985 Greek Orthodox Archdiocese award for service to the Schools of New York; June 2008 Federation of Greek American Educators; 2008 Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus; February 1991, March 1997 and May 1991 St. Demetrios and Day and Afternoon Schools Parents Association; 1975 St. Spyridon Afternoon School Parents Association; October 2010 the Council of the Overseas Greeks SAE Association: February 1994, January 1998, February 2004 The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, Astoria; June 2007 The Greek American Homeowners Association of New York; March 2003  Ionian Cultural Association of America; 2008 Nisyrian Society of New York and  “Father of the Year” June 2004 by the St. John the Theologos Nisyrian Society.

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Presenting award to writer with Publisher Paulo Kotrotstios at Prometheus Event.

“Hellenic culture has stressed paideia from time immemorial,” he believes. “This ancient paideia (education) was the foundation of the greatest civilization the world has ever known.” New York politicians have honored Educator Kokkinos. They are the following persons: March 2006, Mrs. Helen Marshall, Borough President of Queens; May 2005 and March 2006 Office of former Assemblyman and current Senator Michael Giannaris; 2005 Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; March 2009 Comptroller William Thompson Jr. for his contribution to the education of New York City students; 2007 Teacher of the Year by the Ethniko Kirika newspaper and June 2011 newspaper magazine dedicated to his education career by the Ethniko Kirika as “Teacher of the Community”.photo10

“My late wife Anastasia inspired my work,” he said. “She was a very good woman who stood by my side. We have two daughters, Eleni and Calliope. We were blessed with four grandchildren, Theologos and Timoleon Tiliakos and Anastasia and George Tsopelas.

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Mr. Kokkinos (standing) giving an address on February 24th at a Memorial in Memory of the late Constantine Parthenis, St. Catherine’s hall., Sts. Catherine and George Church, Astoria.

Timoleon Kokkinos has an exceptional gift. He inspires persons of all ages to attend Greek-American socials and education events. I have seen several hundred persons attend Astoria events that Timoleon Kokkinos organized. He is an outstanding fundraiser of journal books and Hellenic causes. His support comes from the strong Dodecanesian organization of New York and New Jersey and generations of students who were honored to pass through his hands. He appeals to middle Americans of Greek descent who are attracted to his Aegean island approach to education and Greek hospitality. “Learn the meaning of Greek,” he says. “Greek language is for everyone.” I did not realize the Nisyrian islanders suffered persecution from a Western, not Middle Eastern power to hold on to their heritage. Loyalty, commitment to the Greek language, culture, Greek Orthodox church and island of Nisyros describes Timoleon Kokkinos life work in Astoria, New York.

 References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Islands_of_the_Aegean

 

 

Remembering a Greek Revolution Hero

It is time to remember a Captain who gave his life for an ideal.IMG_0962

“The Garden of Heroes” is not on the Beaten Trail of recommended Greek sites by excursion agencies. I went with Kapogiannis Tours of Tripoli to discover the Greek Soul of Independence on an excursion with guide Kostoula. It is located at the entrance of Missolonghi. The Garden has a large section dedicated to the fighters of the Greek War of Independence, who fought for the freedom of Missolonghi. I was impressed with a marble statue of the great poet Byron, above the place where his heart is buried. Lord Byron died in Missolonghi in 1824, during the second siege of the town. His heart was buried in Missolonghi. Every year, on Palm Sunday there is a Memorial March. The march starts from the church of Agios Spyridon and ends in the Garden of the Heroes

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The Exodus from Missolonghi- Theodoros Vryzakis1853

Athanasios Cherpelis was memorialized with his fellow fighters. “My great, great grandfather was Athanasios Cherpelis” said Dikaiophylax Archon Stephen Cherpelis, of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Flushing. “He was a Captain killed in the Exodus from Missolonghi. His brother Anagnostis survived. The Bishop of Missolonghi gave my ancestor Cherpelis the name of Anagnostis, meaning reader, because he read the epistles every week in church. Anagnostis escaped to the village of Alestia.photo6 - Copy

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Garden of Heroes

I was born in Agalianos, Karpenisi. Our village had a lake and beautiful rivers. In 1947 our entire village was burned by the communist guerilla. Everything, buildings, livestock destroyed. They followed us with bullets. Mr. Tsinias, an old man, was tied inside his house. His godson burnt the house to the ground with the old man in it. I fled as a refugee to Athens, staying with an Aunt. I immigrated to the United States soon after. The Exodus of Missolonghi shows Greeks died fighting as heroes than become slaves. The Cherpelis family built this monument in memory of Athanasios Cherpelis in the Garden of Heroes.”IMG_0996

 

On the Road in Greece: The Garden of Heroes, Missolonghi

They never fail who die in a great cause.” – George Gordon, Lord Byron

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Monument to Lord Byron

“The Garden of Heroes” is not on the Beaten Trail of recommended Greek sites by excursion agencies. I went with Kapogiannis Tours of Tripoli to discover the Greek Soul of Independence on an excursion with guide Kostoula. It is located at the entrance of Missolonghi. The Garden has a large section dedicated to the fighters of the Greek War of Independence, who fought for the freedom of Missolonghi. I was impressed with a marble statue of the great poet Byron, above the place where his heart is buried. Lord Byron died in Missolonghi in 1824, during the second siege of the town. His heart was buried in Missolonghi. Every year, on Palm Sunday there is a Memorial March. The march starts from the church of Agios Spyridon and ends in the Garden of the Heroes1

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Tomb of the Fallen

The Garden of Heroes has a history not found in English internet sources. One must go to google/gr to get a complete insight and visit in person. At the entrance is a statue dedicated to the National Poet of Greece, Dionisios Solomos with quotes such as “The Eyes of the soul must always be awake.”  There are 69 of Greeks and Phil-Hellenes of historical and artistic importance. The Tomb of the Fallen with a lion was established by the Greek monarchy of Othon and Amalia. Marcos Botsaris tomb with the statue of the Hellinopoula (Greek girl) is visited by many.  Marcos Botsaris was a heroic Greek Revolutionary hero from Souli, Epirus who died fighting in battle. He is a national figure revered in poetry, literature and music.

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The Exodus from Missolonghi- Theodoros Vryzakis1853
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Garden of Heroes

I was amazed to learn from a monument that  American fighters died at Missolonghi fighting for the freedom of the Greeks from the slavery of the Ottoman Turk Empire that became brutal from 1the 1800’s to 1912. The fallen heroes of Thrace had a monument. A memorial with a  poem of Kostis Palamas, praises the fallen German heroes of Missolonghi for “their loyal hearts and sacrifice.”

Athanasios Cherpelis was memorialized with his fellow fighters. “My great, great grandfather was Athanasios Cherpelis” said Dikaiophylax Archon Stephen Cherpelis, of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Flushing. “He was a Captain killed in the Exodus from Missolonghi. His brother Anagnostis survived. The Bishop of Missolonghi gave my ancestor Cherpelis the name of Anagnostis, meaning reader, because he read the epistles every week in church. Anagnostis escaped to the village of Alestia. I was born in Agalianos, Karpenisi. Our village had a lake and beautiful rivers. In 1947 our entire village was burned by the communist guerilla. Everything, buildings, livestock destroyed. They followed us with bullets. Mr. Tsinias, an old man, was tied inside his house. His godson burnt the house to the ground with the old man in it. I fled as a refugee to Athens, staying with an Aunt. I immigrated to the United States soon after. The Exodus of Missolonghi shows Greeks died fighting as heroes than become slaves. The Cherpelis family built this monument in memory of Athanasios Cherpelis in the Garden of Heroes.”

An amazing  monument carving of Greek fighters bowing and listening to the inspiring words of a priest holding a bible and pointing to God, caught my attention. I saw similar images in Moscow museums.

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Marcos Botsaris Greek Independence War hero with statue of the Ellinopoula (Greek Girl)

Revered heroes are from Thrace, Cyprus, America and Germany. The monuments include: Tomb of the Fallen: Markos Botsaris Memorial; Columns of the brothers Gerothanasis, the Bishop of Ross Iosif, the fortress Michael. P. Kokkinis, Stavros Koutzouki, I. I Majer, Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis, Petros, Andreas and Kostas Dova, Swedish Gustav Adolfou, Dimitrios Sideris, Nik. Stornaris, Athanasios Tserpeli, Zenovio Valvi, Thodorakis Grivas, Nik. Kassomoulis, Georgios Lilos, Andreas Savvas, Stamos Staikos, Chelios, Americans, French, Germans, Italians, Poles, Russians, all the Filellins, as well as the Cypriot fighters.

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Eugene Delacroix’s “Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi” memorialized the heroes’ sacrifice in The Garden of Heroes.
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Monument of American heroes who fought for the freedom of Greece.

The busts: Astigos, Byron, Dimitrios Themelis, Christos Kapsalis, Sp. Kontoyannis, Ioannis Papadiamantopoulou, Thanassis Razizottsikas, the Municipality of Rinissa, Kon. Vlachopoulos, Giannis Gounaris, Mitros Deligorghi, Georgios Kitsos, Mitsos Kontogiannis, Dimitris Makris, Al. Maurodoratos, Noti Botsari and Spyros Milios.

The crosses of Ioannis Aggelis, Dimitrios Gorpas, Kostas Pournaras, Andreas Grivogiorgos, Toussa Zervas, Asimakis Zorbas, A.Kollias, Fotis Bourbori, Georgakis Darmas, Spyros Petaloudis and Planet. Platyka, Spyros Razi, Italian Rajeri, Spyros Skarlatos, Gerasimos D. Gonzalez, Kon. I. Trikoupis, of John Trikoupis. The Italian Pasquale Yacoumoi. By Chrysanthos Moraitis.

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Monument carving of priest inspiring Greek fighters.

Other historical sights are the following: Larnaca of Chr. Xeromeri; Column by the resolution of May 14, 1829 by I. Kapodistrias; Plaque with the names of the bastions; Monument to the tapestry of M. Botsaris.2

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Monument to Athanasios Tserpelis.

The “Exodus of Missolonghi” was a mass breakout of the 10,500 population from an Ottoman and Egyptian siege. This defeat was a key factor leading to intervention by the Great Powers who, hearing about the atrocities, felt sympathetic to the Greek cause. Eugene Delacroix’s “Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi” memorialized the heroes’ sacrifice in The Garden of Heroes.

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Monument to German heroes

References:

1.https://www.greeka.com/sterea/mesolongi/mesolongi-excursions/mesolongi-garden-of-heroes.htm

  1. https://el.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%9A%CE%AE%CF%80%CE%BF%CF%82_%CF%84%CF%89%CE%BD_%CE%97%CF%81%CF%8E%CF%89%CE%BD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off the Beaten Trail: April 8th Easter in Moscow Russia

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Good Friday, April, 6, Sts. Cosmas and Damianos Church, Moscow, RU.

Travel makes new friends. I have a correspondence with my tour Russian guide Irina, a mother of three sons, for over two and a half years. Her conversion to Russian Orthodoxy represents the average Russian turning away from Atheism to their Russian Orthodox roots. I asked Irina to email photos of Easter services.

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“The church where I go is named after the Wonderworking and Unmercenary Saints Kosmas and Damian of Asia in Maroseika Str.,” she said. “I’ve been lucky to visit services these days. On Passions week services are especially touching, gorgeous and very long. Liturgies from Monday to Wednesday (Holy Week) last almost 5 hours. Yesterday, (Holy Friday, April 6th), there were three services and I spent almost all day in the church. Between the services volunteers helped to prepare for the main event – Easter night. This morning, on the Great Saturday after liturgy of Basil the Great (7 – 12 am) all kids, who came with their parents were rewarded for their patience. They could let white doves’ fly (for Annunciation). After that our priests consecrated Easter cakes and colored eggs which people brought in baskets. Now I’m preparing to go for the Easter service tonight (10 pm – 3 am).

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Easter, Sts. Cosmas and Damianos Church, Moscow, RU.

Irina explained that “during services in our churches, pictures are not appreciated. Easter service usually lasts from 10 pm to 3 am in regular churches, and in big cathedrals (like Christ the Savior) or in the monasteries it is about one hour longer. The Easter service attracts the biggest number of parishioners. In my little church there were over 400 people this year. To house all of them it was necessary to make more space in the main hall.”20180408_033152

“Usually the choir singers stand along with the parishioners in the main hall, closer to the iconostasis,” she said. “This time the choir was transferred to the top balcony under the dome. From the top young singers (7 women and 7 men) sounded even better as the dome shape allows perfect acoustics. And when at the end of the service the priests started to exclaim ‘Christos Anesti!’ imagine over 400 voices replying with the greatest enthusiasm! The vibration of those voices was a powerful and refreshing wave which gave new energy to people after several hours of standing.

Among hundreds of voices of men and women we could clearly hear a lot of pure and sincere children’s voices. They were touching all hearts.”

Irina noticed “that in my church of Sts,Cosmas and Damianis in Maroseika str. there are many more children and teenagers, than in other churches where I’ve been. I think it’s because of this superior priest, Father Feodor. He himself is the father of eight children aged from 3 to 22 years old. He is a kind and cheerful person and in charge of our Sunday school. All kids adore him. By the way, this year his birthday coincided with the Easter holiday. He became 50.20180408_033817

The parishioners congratulated him after the service. The service finished at 3 am. Most people remained in the church. Soon the tables were laid down and we were offered tea and traditional Easter cakes, colored eggs and sandwiches with cheese. Kids finished their meals so quickly that I had no chance to take a nice picture of their table. All children received bags with some gifts. At about 4 in the morning people started to leave. Public busses were going all over that night and morning. Ahead is a whole Easter week with a lots of celebrations, charity fairs and concerts, Christos Anesti! Irina — Ирина Четина”

“The general cultural liberalization that followed Stalin’s death in 1953 brought a natural curiosity about the Russian past that especially caught the interest of younger generations,” according to Glenn E. Curtis, in the book Russia: A Country Study. “The ceremonies and art forms of the Russian Orthodox Church, an inseparable part of that past, attracted particular attention, to the dismay of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev regimes. Historian James Billington has pointed out that in that period religious belief was a form of generational rebellion by children against doctrinaire communist parents.”There are no seats in her church. Everyone stands, as in traditional churches in Greece. Women and girls cover their heads with scarfs as the American Christian churches up to the 1960’s. Their iconostasis (altar) has traditional Byzantine icons and symbols.

On April 8, 2018 Easter, President Vladimir Putin said “It is with satisfaction that I note the tireless efforts by the Russian Orthodox Church to strengthen social harmony, support the institution of family and educate the younger generation, as well as its contribution toward overcoming pressing social challenges. The Russian Orthodox Church should be praised for its extensive and multi-faceted work.” 120180404_160942 (1).jpg

                   “Today the Russian Orthodox Church is, by far, the most conservative, traditional and anti-Communist religious body in the world. It has gone so far as to canonize dozens of martyrs killed by the Communists and celebrate the Romanov tsar and his family who were brutally murdered by the Reds in 1918.Significantly, since 1991 over 26,000 new Christian churches have opened in Russia, and the fact that Christianity is being reborn in Russia has not gone unnoticed among some Christian writers in the America and Europe, although generally ignored by the secular press.”220180404_161626 (1)IMG-20180408-WA0070

References:

  1. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/57221
  2. https://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2015/2379/print/

Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/7uhxt1s6rnU9tqH52

 

Matina Botoulas Participated at Art Exhibition of NY Greek Consulate

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Photo by Marilena

Mrs. Matina Botoulas participated in the March 2018 Art Exhibition at the renovated Cultural Hall of the Consulate General of Greece in New York. Americans are embarking on new careers regardless of age, said Matina Botoulas of Flushing, New York. “I am following a road I never dreamed of. My daughters inspired me with a gift of artist supplies. I began expressing in art my impressions of my surroundings.”

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Mrs. Matina Botoulas. All photos by Marilena

Her work has been displayed in a recent exhibition at the Stathakion Cultural Center, Queens, NY. “I loved drawing from a young age,” said Martina who was born in Angelona, Laconia, Greece. “I married my husband, Nick Botoulas of Tripolis. We immigrated to the U.S. and raised our daughters Marilene and Georgia while pursuing careers. At sixty-five, I began working as an artist. I am inspired by my environment. I see a house that reminds me of Greece and I draw it on canvas. A Santorini fridge magnet inspires a painting, while memories of Monemvasia led to a landscape.” Her colorful paintings show clearly her Mediterranean influences.image4image2

March 18, 2018 UN Rally: Through the Eyes of Pan Arcadian Geros Tou Morea Society

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            “A Rendezvous with History” took place on the afternoon of March 18, 2018 Rally to oppose the naming of FYROM as Macedonia in the United Nations Plaza. Three blocks were closed off with police lines. Countless buses filled the area from the Midwest to the Northern seaboard states. This was a “Pan American Rally” with persons from the west coast of California and along the East Coast of the United States and Montreal, Canada. Organized by the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, Pan Macedonian Association of USA, Hellenic American Congress and other US Greek organizations, it was one of the most peaceful events. No disrupters! The NYPD and volunteers helped the rally participants demonstrate without violence. “The Greek American Community is united and on March 18, across the United Headquarters in Manhattan we will have the largest rally that ever took place in New York”, said Petros Galatoulas, President of the Federation of the Hellenic Societies of Greater New York.

Volunteer security volunteers worked together to safeguard public safety. Police watched intently if anyone crossed the police lines by the program stand. The police and volunteers made this one of the peaceful UN rallies. The participants were patient with someone distributing Pro FYROM papers. Several rally participants said “they want trouble from us. We will destroy papers and continue saying in peace ‘Macedonia is Greek’. Patience, strength, determination. This was not a rally of the elitist. This is a people’s movement to save their borders that may be destroyed not only by FYROM. Albany wants Greek Epirus and Corfu. Bulgaria still wants their dream of acquiring Thessaloniki. Turkey continues to violate Aegean waters, wanting the northeast islands.IMG_9204

            “Arcadians of Chapter #1, Geros Tou Morea of the Pan Arcadian Federation of America will participate and rent a bus for her members and their friends,” said Demetrios Filios, vice president. “President Christos Vournas has influenced the society to donate $1,000 to the Federation of the Hellenic Societies of Greater New York. We must be united. All societies of Arcadians of New Jersey will participate.” The Arcadians self-sacrifice under the leadership of Theodoros Kolokotronis, an Arcadian, helped create a successful 1821 Greek Revolution. Mrs. Eleni Alexiadis Hatzis sent emails to myself and others to join the Pan Macedonian Studies Center of Whitestone. I decided to join the Arcadians, my husband’s society.
            The morning of March 18th, a group of about 40 persons gathered at the Arcadian society center at 27-02 19th Avenue, Long Island City. “I came from Hicksville, New York to participate with” my Syllogos’, said Mrs. Koulouris with pride. “Our church did not have buses”. Unfortunately, several Greek Orthodox churches governed by parish councils did not listen to His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios encyclical to attend. St. Nicholas Church of Flushing, St. Demetrios church of Astoria had three buses, as well as other numerous churches. Vasiliki “Vasso” Lagos said “We re all united as Greeks, not political parties. My husband, former president Apostolos Lagos is taking the train in from work.”
Dimitra Parkys, a member of the St. Catherine’s Preschool in Astoria, “as a third generation Tripolitstiotisa, the city of 1821 New Martyrs, it is my obligation. We must show our elected officials that we are a strong voting group who oppose the creation of two Macedonias.” The fear expressed by all in the Arcadian society and rally participants was the fear that in five years a new country will form uniting both Macedonias, fulfilling the Slavic dream of acquiring Thessaloniki, the main port of the Balkans. Three young, energetic men, Dimitris, Giannis Bougioukos and Andreas Polydoros left their jobs to demonstrate. They were gathering photos for Facebook and the Arcadian website. “I am an engineer-Producer/DJ believes we must make sure there is a Macedonia of Alexander the Great for the next generation,” said Polydoros, reinforced by the Bougioukos. The Geros Tou Morea Chapter youth attended in force. There is hope for our Greek societies living on. Nikos J. Apostolopoulos, member of The Hellenic Congress of America joined us, with Educator George Melikokis, saying “We are working with AHEPA and all organizations to make sure the name Macedonia used by neighbors.”

            The Geros Tou Morea chapter was joined at the rally with Arcadian Dr. George Tsioulias, who attends all Arcadian meetings and socials. “This is a unique experience to day to see Greek-Americans show patriotism and will to fight for keeping Macedonia as Greek.” Dr. Andreopoulou and Lymberis and her nine-year-old son, explained “it is important to be united in keeping our borders intact. Two Greek flags were flying from the top floors of Trump Tower, opposite demonstrators. Nick Siderakis, of Chios, said “this is also about keeping the borders of the Aegean safe from turkey’s aggressive behavior in violating borders. Master Cantor Mihalis of the Holy Trinity Cathedral and friends, New York City, were holding a six-foot Greek flag that was 100 years old.

            Hundreds of Greek flags flying, the national anthem of Macedonia was a spectacular sight. The program had numerous speakers.

Contact https://www.facebook.com/panmacusa for a complete program. Apostolos Zoupaniotis and Dimitris Panagos of the Greek News, Hellas FM and Antenna were thanked for media coverage. Many estimated that about eight thousand persons attended. The two speakers who made a profound impression and can impact all proceeding on “Macedonia is Greek” were Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America.

            “Macedonia is Greek,” Said congresswoman Maloney. “It is time world recognized this historical fact. This 25-year dispute must be resolved. I will begin a resolution Monday (March 22nd) to try to solve this dispute between FYROM and Athens.” This reporter called Congresswoman Maloney’s office March 23rd for an update. I did not receive any information on her proposed resolution.

            Congresswoman Maloney is the founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues. The Caucus serves to bring a renewed congressional focus on key diplomatic, military, and human rights issues in this critical part of the world. The members of the Caucus introduce legislation, arrange briefings on current events, and disseminate information to interested parties.1 For more information, contact https://maloney.house.gov.

            Archbishop Demetrios mobilized parishes whose Divine Liturgy schedule or other Sunday scheduled events coincide with the rally, to re-schedule so that participation in the Rally may be the greatest possible.  They came in masses, waving flags in busses from churches, federations and societies. The Geros Tou Morea chapter is an example of the many groups who attended.
            “I am a born Macedonian in Thessaloniki for generations,” His eminence said. “I grew up learning about the ‘Komitatzides (Bulgarian guerilla fighters who tried to seize Macedonia for Bulgaria). As soon as I heard of this rally for Macedonia, I backed it completely. When you believe it has a good chance of becoming reality. We must proclaim to the leadership and people of the United States as well as to all nation members of the UN that Macedonia is Greek. In a peaceful yet decisive way we show our opposition to the unacceptable use of the name of Macedonia by FYROM, the usurpation of Macedonia’s history, culture and symbols, and the expressions of irredentism.” He stood with the people, in one of his finest moments.
            Many of the participants said, “they listened to Vikentios Malamatenios of Hellas FM all Saturday night inspiring them to come.” He mentioned Kolokotronis, Pavlos Melas, Greek war heroes and ended with “God Bless America”.  It worked. He galvanized everyone. Mr. Filos, the owner of Hellas FM worked in the shadows promoting patriotism of Borders, Language and culture.

            In a time when persons are selling off their country of Greece, one person is standing in their way: Dimitris Filippidis. In his broadcasts, he says” We are lucky in the US to have the church’s support through the leadership of Archbishop Demetrios, who is backing the March 18th rally outside the United Nations at 12 p.m. to protest the naming of FYROM to Macedonia. We are giving Macedonia to our children. The holy soil of Macedonia is Greece and Greece is Macedonia. Turkish military boats are cruising illegally in the Greek Aegean. Greece is being threatened.” His daily broadcasts electrified everyone. Many persons worked with Mr. Filippidis. I am not mentioning names because I may leave persons out. Contact Mr. Filippidis for more information on Hellas FM. His English is excellent, getting hi points across along with President Galatoulas. Both men can be Master of Ceremonies of any event in English and Greek without any outside help.

This event will go down in the history of Greek-American society as fighting for Greece’s borders and sovereignty. Now it is up to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the members of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues and His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Church that “Macedonia Is Greece” unites the political voting power of Greek-Americans and their friends, the Phil-Hellenes.IMG_9240
References:
Links:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpsBeCnsuJw-  National Anthem of Macedonia

What Was the Hospitality at 2015 Easter in Athens and the Peloponnese?

http://www.helleniccomserve.com/tsouniseaster2015greece12may2015.html

Reprint of Easter three years ago at the beginning of the euro crisis.

 

What Was the Hospitality at 2015 Easter in Athens and the Peloponnese?

by Catherine Tsounis


Seize the moment. Spring brings experiences that we wait for all winter. Begin a new chapter by enjoying the cuisine of Greece. The traveler learns the culture, geography, history and traditions through journeys, not through books or the Internet. Cuisine is a place to begin.

Despina Siolas, M.D., Ph.D. and her husband, Laurentino Ibarra, seized their moment. They travelled: Athens in one day and the Peloponnese in seven days during the Easter season 2015. How did they celebrate Easter 2015 with middle-class Greeks? By sharing in celebrations honoring the values of tradition, family, Greek Orthodoxy and patriotism. The couple began a seven day travel from Nafplio, Mycenae, Areopoli, Pylos, Dimitsana and Tripoli in the heartland of “Old Greece” where the Greek Revolution began.

“I wanted to celebrate Easter with my father’s family,” she said. “Persons have a positive outlook. They welcome tourism. Hospitality to strangers is unique in Greece. Everyone knows English, even in the smallest village. Laurentino, who does not know Greek, was able to communicate with all in English. Their visit has cemented Hellenism for the next generation of our family.”

They were greeted at the Athens airport in April by her father’s adopted sister, Pitsa Tsakonas, a retired senior librarian of the Benaki Museum. Tsakonas’family were refugees from Smyrna; her husband is from the Peloponnese. She greeted them fluently in English, transporting them to their Athens hotel. After a day spent at the Acropolis and its museum, the group enjoyed an evening dinner of homemade Greek cuisine with the Tsakonas family at their Kessarini home.


American travelers enjoying dinner with Athenian relatives.
All photos by Despina Tsiolas.

Pitsa Tsakonas prepared tiropites (small cheese pies), horiatiki salad (traditional Greek salad), patates (fried potatoes), kima me macaronia (pasta with meat sauce), souvlaki (small pieces of skewered and grilled meat) and other Greek dishes. They met Pitsa’s daughter, a librarian at the Benaki Museum, her retired husband and two adorable grandchildren under the age of five. Hospitality, graciousness and a genuine interest in the American tourists’ welfare shaped the evening’s atmosphere. Cheerfulness and laughter predominated. “Cabbage dishes are very popular at this time served as a lahanosalada (salad of greens). The traditional horiatikisalad with feta cheese, souvlakitzatziki (cucumber yogurt dip), mousaka (eggplant, meat, and pasta casserole) was served. Pitsa made her own tiropites from scratch. Every family has their own house wine that is homemade; Pitsa’s wine was produced by a relative from the Peloponnese. Pitchers of water and beer were also served. Dessert was chocolate covered ice cream sandwiches with ice cream cones.

“Enjoying food with the Tsakonas family brought us closer together,” Dr. Tsiolas said. “Sharing food with Greek families is part of the Greek travel experience. We came together as a family, communicating through Greek cuisine a positive interaction.”

The evening ended by visiting “Porto Kagio” that serves traditional cuisine of Mani, Peloponnese. Christos, the owner, greeted everyone warmly with musicians Panteli and others. A wall painting of Mani and traditional Greek folk arts adorned the interior. For additional information about Porto Kagio in the southern Peloponnese and its restaurants, see the Internet URL http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1191893-d6839306-Reviews-Porto_Kagio-Agia_Paraskevi_Athens_Attica.html. A view of the life of a middle class Athenian family thus ended.

The couple’s new adventure was sightseeing at Mycenae and Nafplio. Sunset in Mycenae was magical. The greenery, sunflowers and trees project a different image of Mycenaean civilization. The travelers arrived at Nafplio, staying at Dafni Pension from April 4th and 5th. The comfortable rooms cost 112 euros for two nights (http://pensiondafni.gr/en/). Their unique experience of Easter and Holy Week in the Peloponnese was just beginning. Sightseeing included Palamidi Castle and its 999 steps, Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation “V. Papantoniou,” a miniature windmill, St. Spyridon Church, the first pharmacy of Greece, a run along Karathona Beach, and walking paths and sights about town. Two dogs were tied opposite a Nafplio restaurant barking at its owner, an unforgettable human interest sight. Store-bought Easter lampades (large candles) were decorated with toys and flowers for all.


Dolmathes with meat and rice, Taverna Beto, Nafplio
Being at the Taverna Beto was the highlight of their Nafplio culinary experience. “The best psarosoupa (fish soup) I ever tasted,” said Dr. Tsiolas. “We kept coming back to enjoy the cuisine. This had a lot to do with the warm hospitality of the owners. We were constantly being treated to wine, bear tsipouro(a local fish) and cheese, their graciousness showed the best of Greece’s legendary hospitality. Young musicians in a band played music with everyone dancing. The restaurant was open for a year. (http://www.tripadvisor.com/
Restaurant_Review-g319780-d4867348-Reviews-Taverna_Beto-Nafplio_Argolis_Region_Peloponnese.html
).We enjoyed gigantes (giant beans), dolmathes with meat and rice (stuffed grape leaves), fried potatoes, okra with potatoes, carrots, souvlakitzatziki, grilled peppers, potatoes with lemon and octopus during our stay [as well as] meliasti, a filo-wrapped cheese with honey and sesame.”

“We learned some interesting facts on grilled shrimp,” explained the tourist. “The head must be kept on to keep the juice. In Greece, they keep the shrimp head on. In the U.S., shrimp is grilled and cooked without a head. Keeping the head on the shrimp keeps it juicy. Many were sucking on the shrimp head to get the juice. Seafood was very popular during Easter week. We had squid stuffed with feta, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice with salad. The Folklore Museum showed an aristocratic table with crystals, hand-cut tablecloths. It looked straight out of a bridal registry from Macy’s and Bed, Bath and Beyond. A box of traditional koulourakia (Greek butter twist cookies), vanilla, cinnamon, pistachio and chocolate biscotti and nistisima (Lenten) cookies was a souvenir of Nafplio.

“Laurentino, unknowingly, wore a green shirt that appeared [to suggest that] he supported Panathinaikos,” she said. “They kept treating him to wine, beer, tsipouro and cheese. Panathinaikos was popular at this taverna.” Panathinaikos Athlitikos Omilos is a professional Greek soccer team founded in 1908. It is a successful team in the Soccer Super League of Greece. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panathinaikos_F.C.). [Taverna Beto demonstrated] Greek hospitality at its best.

Mystra in the spring
With their rented car, the tourists drove to Areopoli, passing Sparta and Mystra, on Holy Monday. April 6th. The National Highway was empty. A gigantic statue of Leonidas greeted them in Sparta. “Both ancient and modern writers have used the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of the power of a patriotic army defending its native soil,” according to Wikipedia contributors at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Thermopylae. “The performance of the defenders at the Battle of Thermopylae is also used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain as force multipliers and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds.”

At the Xenia Mystra Café, they enjoyed a spring view of the Laconian countryside with blooming olive trees. Keftedes (Greek-style meatballs) with cloves, cinnamon and olive oil was one of the aromatic dishes. The old-world atmosphere of these restaurants with white tablecloths including the panoramic view gives one a feeling of contentment. Mystra came alive with the look of spring framed by Mount Taygetos looming in the background. A lizard was seen in the spring flowers. “Families lived there up to the 1950’s,” said Dr. Tsiolas. “The Despot (ruler) lived at the highest point. The poorer classes lived outside the tower. Palm Sunday, April 6th was a perfect time for sightseeing: not too hot or cold; no lines of tourists.” Visiting the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil at 129 Othonas-Amalia (www.piop.gr) showed the production and history of olive. It is part of a group of industrial museums set up by the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation. The Water Mill Museum in Dimitsana is part of the Foundation.


Driving to Mani showed them the rugged Peloponnesian mountainous landscape. Instead of staying at a hotel, the couple chose to lodge at the traditional Xenonas Elixirion Guesthouses in Karavostasi of Mani ‘We picked it because Karavostasi is on the water, the Messinian Gulf” explained the tourist. “It was an old pirates’ hide-out.” The architecture, traditional Greek rooms, ceramic bathrooms can be seen at http://www.mani-elixirion.com. A welcome tray of sweets greeted them in their room with a water view; waves crashing on the shore reminded them of traveling on a cruise. They ate at a town nearby, Ifilos, at Mavro Pirates (Black Pirates).

The Elixirion owners in their welcome explained “visitors of the area as well as guests of our guesthouse will have the opportunity to taste and enjoy exquisite plates upon request from Mrs. Maria Sotirakis. Our guests will be able to see for themselves the truth in our sayings by visiting our biological farm and olive trees where we produce our own olive oil. All our recipes are biological coming from our farm. The meat is from local Mani producers.” [Edd: In the U.S. we use the term “organic” instead of “biological” to denote farming without chemicals and pesticides, but the use of “biological” here reflects the actual translation of the hotels owners in accordance with the custom in Greece.]

The tourists were impressed with Easter decorations of flowers, eggs, chicks, chocolate-covered bread, and homemade jellies. Breakfast included Easter baskets with eggs, chicks, lady bugs and butterflies. A burning fireplace gave a hospitable feeling while they watched the Messinian gulf from the windows. Later, the couple visited the unique Caves of Dirou. (For more info see http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g189483-d198894-Reviews-Caves_of_Dirou-Peloponnese.html).


Easter baskets at Xenonas Elixirion, Mani
“Mani is famous for its tower-houses without stairways,” she explained. “They were built because of the feuds among families for defense. A ladder thrown from the top was needed to get into the tower. They reminded me of the princess in the fairy tale ‘Rapunzel.’”


Pylos, a pickup truck with goats and lambs on way to Asfalion,
2015 Easter week
On Tuesday, April 7th they drove through the olive groves of Kalamata to reached Pylos, the site of the Battle of Navarino in the Greek War of Independence. The couple stayed at Tina’s House for 60 euros a night (http://www.pylosrooms.com). “Tina’s House on the water is unexplainable. They had a fireplace with a miniature, running water mill running in the dining room.” According to the owners, “Its stunning location on the highest spot in town offers to every traveler moments of calmness and relaxation, since combining an insuperable view to the sea with the boundless serenity of nature. Our recently refurbished rooms, affording a special decoration, refer to the old mansions of Pylos. Enjoy the unique experience of sunset from your balcony or even while savoring local flavors on Tina’s House yard.” Visiting the Peloponnesian coast appears to be like visiting an island.

“As we were leaving Pylos, a pickup truck with goats and lambs stopped us,” said Despina. “The driver asked us in Greek for directions to the Asfalion (Insurance building). We said we were not locals but from New York. He left us, searching for the Asfalion.” What do you think was the destination of lamb and goats during Easter week?

On April 8th and 9th, Holy Wednesday and Holy Thursday, Tsiolas and Ibarra traveled to Dimitsana, (ancient Teuthis), arriving at Xenonas Enastron for 71 euros a night (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g970271-d1440372-Reviews-Enastron-Dimitsana_Arkadia_Region_Peloponnese.html) “Enastron was better than the Sofitel by Athens Airport. The view of the mountain, books, DVD’s, videos, slippers, towels, loukoumia (traditional sweets) and free matia (traditional apotropaic talismans) in our rooms gave us a feeling of real hospitality. When I was in Dimitsana, the bed and breakfast owners made bougatsa (sweet custard) for breakfast and gave me some to take with me during the day. The breakfast had koulourakiakreopita (meat pies), homemade jellies of apricot, caramel, plum, citrus, and peach, and pomegranate with Nutella and honey from Mani. Her jellies are popular and she sells them. Fresh oranges were pressed into orange juice every morning with lahanopita (pies filled with greens), yogurt and cereal. The owner said he had been drinking chamomile for thirty-five years. The owners even gave us kreopitespites (small filled pies) and sandwiches to take with us to the Lousios Gorge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lousios). Goats were running along mountain roads.”

“The fireplace and heated floors gave us comfort. The dining area had baskets of red flowers with Easter eggs on embroidered tablecloths. We passed a petting farm and saw a friendly pony near the road. The pony showed real affection for company. A beautiful sight for the traveler!”

The Open Air Water Power Museum, a major attraction, mentioned an interesting fact about Dimitsana. “Dimitsana isolated among the mountains possessed not only the know-how of collecting saltpeter and manufacturing black powder, but also combustibles, plenty of water power and a knowledge to use it.‘ We had powder,’ wrote Theodoros Kolokotronis,‘ because we had Dimitsana.’” (http://www.travelsingreece.com/
sightseeing/dimitsana-open-air-water-power-museum
). The Museum showed the old-fashioned way of making tsipouro.


Dimitsana
On the road to Olympia, they stopped at Stemnitsa, famous for its jewelry college and as a weekend getaway for persons from Athens. A local restaurant served luncheons of octopus with macaroni, fish, beef and potatoes. The ruins of Olympia had spring flowers and flowering trees signalling rebirth. Shells in rocks, a sleeping, unhappy dog, Hermes Praxiteles, the Olympia Museum, and Olympic Stadium were some of their impressions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympia,_Greece). Then they drove to Tripoli on Good Friday and stayed at the Hotel Mainalon facing Plateos Areos, the main square.

Their Lenten dinner was octopus, shrimp pasta, French fries and bread—, all organic and without chemicals. Pastry shops had windows filled with tsoureki (traditional braided Greek Easter sweet breads) covered with white chocolate, thumbprint cookies with jelly, baklava (traditional honeyed filo and walnut pastry) and kourabiedes (Greek traditional powdered shortbread cookie).


Dr. Despina Siolas and her husband, Laurentino Ibarra, witnessed the unique Holy Friday Greek Orthodox celebration in Tripoli with their relatives Pitsa Gerou Macarouni, a philologist, her husband Christo Macarouni and three sons and her God-brother, Dr. Alexios Vardouniotis, ENT surgeon and his wife Kanela, a psychologist, and son Spyridon (Clint). [Edd: A “God-brother” is the son of one’s Godparent. In Greek culture the strong and close ties created by baptising a child often extend to the entire family.] “Holy Friday was special because we spent the evening with middle-class families holding onto the old traditions,” explained Dr. Tsiolas. Areos Square was decorated with butterflies and a giant red Easter egg. The Holy Friday Lamentations featured the Procession of the Epitafia (carved wooden representation of the bier of Christ) of eight different church communities from the area paraded around Agiou Vasiliou Square. Chanter, Orpheus, and City of Tripoli choruses, the military, and citizens participated in the Epitafio processions that led to the cemetery outside of town.

Holy Friday, Tripolis, Greece

Holy Saturday was spent hiking through the Lousios Gorge, which has been inhabited for centuries by monks and hermits in caves. Two monasteries remain open to visitors, Philosophou and Prodromo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lousios). Philosophou is famous due to its reputation as being a secret school during the Ottoman occupation. On their return to the hotel, they received two Easter candles on behalf of Tripoli city by its mayor, Dimitis Pavlis. “From the bottom of my heart, we wish every person a Kalo Pasha,” his message read. “May the Holy Light illuminate the lives of young and old with Love, Hope, Health and Progress. Happy Resurrection.” In addition, they had a platter of koulourakia, a tsoureki and two eggs.

“We said ‘Christos Anesti’ with my aunt, philologist Pitsa Gerou Macarouni, and her husband Christo and three sons,” explained Dr. Tsiolas. “ They all hold onto old traditions. Aunt Pitsa told me ‘I have a fourth child, a daughter, you, Despina. You are my blood.’” Blood ties are very important in 2015 Greece. Their home had photos of family members in traditional tsolia (male military attire), amalia costumes (women’s traditional attire) and military uniforms.

“Holy Saturday evening in Tripoli is different from New York,” she explained. “We attended church at Agio Vasilis church with a presentation of the military, chanting of Christos Anesti, firecrackers and fireworks. Everyone was happy. We took the Holy Light to Thia Pitsa and Thio Christo’s home. Everyone burnt the entrance to the door frame with their candle for good luck.” Would we do this in the U.S.A.? Most people in America would likely be frightened of a fire. The Greeks are brave.


Easter morning dinner at 1 a.m. was cracking red eggs for good luck with magiritsa (traditional Easter egg lemon soup with liver or other meat chunks), tomatoes, feta, kasseri (a type of hard cheese), tiropita, salad, Italian bread, barbecued lamb cut up in pieces, and wine. The house was decorated with colorful embroidered tablecloths, tulips, rabbits, chocolate-covered tsoureki, red roosters, chocolate Easter cookies, chocolate eggs and chocolate and a large red Easter egg. “We want you, Despina, and Laurentino to communicate with our children as long as you live,” said philologist Pitsa Gerou Macarouni. “We want blood ties to continue among our youth. This is the meaning of family.” Laurentino received a present of worry beads so he could use them and remember Tripoli.

On Easter Sunday, the city of Tripoli has an exciting Easter celebration at Areos Square with lambs barbecuing, tsoureki, Easter eggs, koulourakia, and wine, all with traditional folk-dancing. This is free to the public. The City of Tripoli understands their community comes together in preparing food for their Easter celebration. Bonding takes place. The visiting couple enjoyed being with Dr. Alex and family, Thia Pitsa, Thio Christo and family. They then returned to Athens.


Tsakonas Family with Dr. Despina and husband Laurentino (5th and 6th
from left to right) at Easter night services
The best way to describe Tripoli can be found in the welcoming remarks of Andreas Lykourentzos, former Deputy Prime Minister of Education, in an article describing the first Patriarchal visit to the Peloponnese of His All Holiness Patriarch Barthlomew. (http://www.helleniccomserve.com/arcadiashapinghistory.html). “His All Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople visited Tripoli from September 21st-22nd (2009),” according to the article. “Andreas Lykourentzos, Deputy Prime Minister of Education, welcomed the Patriarch by saying ‘from the heart of Morea and the capital (Tripolis) of Arcadia, the homeland of Modern Martyrs, we show our great love for the Patriarch of Constantinople, leader of the Christian Church. I welcome you first as a Tripolitsiotis and as an Arcas, representing our people of Arcadia. Our citizens are dedicated to the trades, professions and sciences. We are your supporters in Greece and Overseas. The Arcadians remain loyal to the traditions and sacrifices of our Nation on behalf of the Christian Faith and for the freedom of our country. In the 21st century, The Light of the Phanar shines in our hearts and the world.’” This description “first as a Tripolitsiotis and as an Arcas,” is handed to each generation to remember who and what they are, holding the light of Hellenism and freedom from ancient times.

“In hospitality, the chief thing is the good will,”- Greek proverb. Hospitality was from God to the Ancient Greeks. The host was expected to make sure the needs of his guests were satisfied. In Greek society, a person’s ability to stand by the laws of hospitality determined nobility and social standing. This concept has been woven into Greek culture for thousands of years. Greek hospitality is thus alive during the spring of 2015. Sharing food is part of the human experience.

The Athenian and Peloponnesian families, restaurants and hotels have brought these tourists closer together. This is what makes Greeks stand out as a people of class and hospitality. Honor, loyalty, integrity are part of hospitality. One must remember and never forget: hospitality is alive in 2015 in Greece.



(Posting date 12 May 2015)

Note: Formatting and editing of this article for Internet by HCS staff. HCS encourages readers to view other fine articles ( http://www.helleniccomserve.com/archivetsounis.html ) penned by Dr. Catherine Tsounis and press releases about the Modern Greek Studies program at St. John’s University, where she is an adjunct professor. For more information about Dr. Tsounis, see her biographical sketch at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/biotsouniscatherine.html

HCS encourages readers to view other articles and releases in our permanent, extensive archives at the URL http://www.helleniccomserve.com/contents.html.



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Spread of Greek Culture at 2nd NY International Day of Greek Language

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Welcome, Mrs. Vassiliki Filiotis, President of the Hellenic Paideia of America; Honored Guest Greeting by UN Ambassador Dionysios Kalavrezos

“The 2nd International Day of Greek Language and Culture” on March 4th, Sunday afternoon, at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity cultural center on 319 East 74th St., New York City. Over two hundred persons attended to support the continuation of the Greek language, culture and Greek Orthodox faith. Mrs. Stella Kokolis President of Hellenic American Educators and Cultural Associations of America and Mrs. Vasiliki Filiotis, President of Hellenic Paideia of America in cooperation with Dr. Ioannis Efthimopoulos, Director of the Hellenic Education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and keynote speaker, honored Dr. Georgia Filiotis, Mrs. Christina Tettonis and Mr. Jim Logothetis for their contribution to the Greek language, culture and Greek Orthodoxy.

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Over two hundred persons attended.

The Program consisted of the following persons: M.C. Dimitris Filippidis, reporter HELLAS FM; National Anthems; Invocation by his Grace Bishop Sevastianos of Zela representing His Eminence Archbishop Geron Demetrios of America; Welcome, Mrs. Vassiliki Filiotis, President of the Hellenic Paideia of America; Honored Guest Greeting by UN Ambassador Dionysios Kalavrezos; Performance by Students of the Hellenic Charter School-Brooklyn; Luncheon; Introduction of Keynote Speaker, Dr. Ioannis Efthymiopoulos, Director of the Office of Education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and  Mrs. Stella Kokolis President of Hellenic American Educators and Cultural Associations of America: Keynote Address, “Greek Language: The Language of Homer, the Ancient Greek Language, the Language of Macedonians and of Romiosyni”; Musical Interlude: Mrs. Anna Tsoukala and Mr. Gregory Post; Awards and Citations to the Honorees and Responses of the Honorees: Dr. Georgia Filiotis, Mrs. Christina Tettonis and Mr. Jim Logothetis; Closing Remarks, Mrs. Stella Kokolis and Benediction by His Grace, Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, assisted by Rev. Fr. John Vlahos, Dean of the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

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MC Dimitris Filippidis with Mrs. Stella Kokolis President of Hellenic American Educators and Cultural Associations of America

Dr. Georgia Filiotis is known in international circles as a member of the United Nations. Her pioneer blazing work in intellectual circles has impressed young professional. She is a mentor to young women who are attempting to follow in her footsteps. Her generosity, kindness and working as a team player devoid of jealousy is remarkable. The Hellenic Paideia of America Organization success through the leadership of President Vasiliki Filiotis was made possible with the help of Adriana Filiotis and Georgia Filiotis. The Filiotis family is well known in Astoria, New York for their community activist services.

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Dr. Filiotis with Vasilios Bolanos, hero of Northern Epirus
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Honoree Dr. Georgia Filiotis

Mrs. Christina Tettonis is principal of The Hellenic Classical Charter School (HCCS) since 2007. his recognition was earned because of her school’s high student progress and increase in student achievement and closing the gap in student performance. It ranks among the top charter schools (Pre-K to 8) in New York City for exceeding targets in student achievement, school environment and student progress.1

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Honoree, Mrs. Christina Tettonis

Mr. Jim Logothetis was born in the village of Karatoula Kynourias. Arcadia.

He joined Ernst & Young in January 1979 in Chicago where he currently serves as a senior partner and a member of the leadership team.

The honoree serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Hellenic American Academy since its founding in 2004. The Academy opened its doors on September 6th with an enrollment of nearly 500 students between the day school Socrates, evening school and the Saturday school programs. He has received many honors and awards and was named Archon of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 2004.”3

             I understand the great love Arcadians have for Greek civilization. The first visit of a Patriarch to the Peloponnese took place in September 21st-22nd, 2009. His Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople visited Tripolis, capital of Arcadia. Andreas Lykourentzos, Deputy Prime Minister of Education, welcomed the Patriarch by saying “from the heart of Morea and the capital (Tripolis) of Arcadia, the homeland of Modern Martyrs, we show our great love for the Patriarch of Constantinople, leader of the Christian Church. I welcome you first as a Tripolitsiotis and as an Arcas, representing our people of Arcadia. Our citizens are dedicated to the trades, professions and sciences. We are your supporters in Greece and Overseas. The Arcadians remain loyal to the traditions and sacrifices of our Nation on behalf of the Christian Faith and for the freedom of our country. In the 21st century, The Light of the Phanar shines in our hearts and the world.” This is where Mr. Jim Logothetis comes from. There is hope for Hellenism. Arcadian-Americans, from Chicago, a center of genuine patriotism for America and Greece.

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Honoree Mr. Jim Logothetis;

           The M.C. Dimitris Filippidis, reporter of HELLASFM had a strong influence in the background. In a time when persons are selling off their country of Greece, one person is standing in their way: Dimitris Filippidis. In his broadcasts, he says” We are lucky in the US to have the church’s support through the leadership of Archbishop Demetrios, who is backing the March 18th rally outside the United Nations at 12 p.m. to protest the naming of FYROM to Macedonia. We are giving Macedonia to our children. The holy soil of Macedonia is Greece and Greece is Macedonia. Turkish military boats are cruising illegally in the Greek Aegean. Greece is being threatened.”4

February 9th, 2018, is the 2nd International Greek Language Day. It is celebrated on the national poet Dionysios Solomos (8 April 1798 – 9 February 1857) Commemoration Day. The idea for an International Greek Language Day had been pushed through the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad with the cooperation of several Greek Diplomatic Missions, as well as Greek Associations and Communities.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate together with the Senior Patriarchates and the Archdioceses which support schools or Greek-language classes have also been requesting the establishment of the International Greek Language Day which is expected to greatly contribute to the spread of Greek culture5.

 

References:

  1. http://www.neomagazine.com/2015/12/christina-tettonis-honored-by-the-center-for-educational-innovation/
  2. http://www.neco.org/medal-of-honor/medalists-database?medalist=29494
  3. http://www.greeknewsonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/38photo2-MytilenianSociety-Festivity
  4. http://en.protothema.gr/february-9th-declared-international-greek-language-day-in-australia/

 

 

On the Road in Italy: Pizzeria in Aquileia

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Giovanna and Dr. Despina at Alla Basilica ristorante/pizzeria.

Seeing a chef create a pizza in eyesight is what a tourist wants. “I know a place for lunch,” said our Aquileia guide Giovanna Strigher Di Robilant. A traditional Pizzeria in a country setting with an outdoor terrace best describes Alla Basilica ristorante/pizzeria. A world of homemade Friuli cuisine.

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Friuli Venezia Giulia cooking is known as a composite of Friulan peasant fare, sophisticated Venetian food and influence from the Slavic and Austrian cultures. Despite these vastly assorted styles of cooking, this region manages to merge them successfully.1

Guide Giovanna told us “we do not have snow like previous years. The mountains are bare of snow. My father worked for the Bank of Italy in New York during the 1960’s. I lived in a beautiful home with grass and a garden in Little Neck. This is fate that I am a guide to you and Dr. Despina, persons from a place where I had a happy childhood.” Getting to know residents is part of enjoying cuisine.IMG_6170

We had a natural beverage called Goccia di Carnia and sorgenti di fleons natural waters, pepperoni pizza, salad, traditional bread and a chocolate dessert. The website says “Goccia di Carnia, with its purity and its valuable properties, arrives untouched on your tables for 40 years thanks to the support of our Italian distributors in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and of our distributors abroad.”2 IMG_6177

We watched the entire creation of pizza from crust, tomato cheese topping, cooked in a large traditional cement oven. The chef took out the cooked pizza with a long handle ladle. The crusty bread was like eating dessert. We had a local homemade lemon dessert beverage. Prices for non-fish cuisine ranged from 7-12 euros. Grigorio, Fiorina, Stefania and Elizabeth are the staff. Their smile, hospitality and warmth transcended the language barrier between us. Giovanna was our interpreter with the Alla Basilica staff.IMG_6179

Pasta is eaten in many different forms in Friuli Venezia Giulia cuisine. Lasagna noodles are layered with poppy seeds. Gnocchi are made with potato, winter squash or plums. The filled pasta called bauletti contains ham and cheese and offelle are stuffed with spinach, pork and veal flavored with onion. Other pasta is packed full of vegetables, fruit, bread, herbs or even chocolate.

Bread is another staple food in Friuli Venezia Giulia cuisine. In addition to wheat breads, rye and barley flour are used to make bread. Pumpkin bread is also commonly enjoyed. Gubana is a bread traditionally served for Easter. This rich bread resembles brioche and is filled with layers of cocoa and grappa flavored dried fruit and nuts. Bread is used to make canaderli which are dumplings that are served in broth or with meat. Potatoes and ricotta are used to fill a savory strudel called strukli.3

“You are lucky there were not any crowds today.  On October 17th,” Giovanna said. “last week we had crowds.” Giovanna, as a local knew the right spots to take us. The Trattoria Hotel “Alla Basilica” is located in the center of Aquileia and is located 5 km from the splendid seaside town of Grado. For further information contact 0431 917449.4

Why did we select Giovanna for a private tour? She gave us accurate directions from Venice. “Take the train to Trieste and you get off at CERVIGNANO del Friuli,” she wrote in an email. “I will come with my car and take you to Aquileia, where we will visit everything available (many different realities: part of the Museums and the temporary exhibitions).  I suggest we pass the entire day together from 11.00 a.m. to 17.00. When the visit is finished (around 5 –  6pm) I will take you to Cervignano where you’ll take the train to Venice. The cost of the private tour is € 250.00. This is the most convenient way of passing a whole and I hope pleasant day in the fantastic place that is Aquileia. You are strangers in our land. We must offer you our best in hospitality.” She escorted us to the train platform and saw us on the train. Our Aquileia trip gave us an insight into the hospitality of Northern Italy.

 

References:

All photos by Despina Siolas, M.D./Ph.D.

1.http://www.made-in-italy.com/italian-food/regions/friuli-venezia-giulia

2.http://www.gocciadicarnia.com/distribution-en.html

  1. http://www.made-in-italy.com/italian-food/regions/friuli-venezia-giulia
  2. http://www.allabasilica.it/

 

Links:

friulguide@libero.it- FRIULGUIDE   Giovanna Strigher

http://www.allabasilica.it/ – ristorante/pizzeria

https://photos.app.goo.gl/QCDaeR22w74ATMjN2

 

 

American Educators’ Representative with President Pavlopoulos in Andros Greece

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Mrs. Stella Kokolis, President of the Federation of Hellenic American Teachers USA (left to right) with President of the Greek Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos (second from left).

President of the Greek Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Mrs. Stella Kokolis, President of the Federation of Hellenic American Teachers USA, attended the Feast Day of the Panagia Theoskepasti (Virgin Mary), the patron saint, in Andros on March 24th.    A new message to Turkey, this time from the island of Andros, was sent by the President of the Republic upon his proclamation as honorary citizen of Andros.

           “In this context, we see the sea as an area of ​​peace and peaceful coexistence and co-creation, with all the peoples and especially with our neighbors. And we remind them that a condition of this peaceful coexistence and coexistence is inherently the rules of international law which have been established…he basis of friendship and good neighborliness, which we are sincerely seeking, is to make our seas, the Mediterranean and the Aegean, bridges that unite us…”1 The President of Greece will attend NYC Greek Independence Day Parade on April 22nd.

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References:
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Mrs. Stella Kokolis,  President of the Federation of Hellenic American Teachers USA (left to right) with President of the Greek Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos (second from left).