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Extended visiting hours for museums and archaeological sites

Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Yeroulanos announced new extended visiting hoursof a number of museums and archeological sites in Greece on May 18.
The ministry said that the list will be further enriched in the future weeks, depending on the availability of staff.
The list includes some of the most popular sites and museums in Greece such as the Acropolis of Athens – Archaeological Site, which will be open from 8.00-19.00, all year round; the Thessaloniki Museum of Byzantine Culture; the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki; the Archaeological Site of Philippi; the Archeological Museum and site of Mycenae; the Archeological Museum and site of Epidaurus; the Archaeological site of Mystras; the Archeological site and Museum of Afaia, Aegina; the Archeological Museum of Messenia; the Archeological site of Ancient Messene; the Catacombs on Milos island; the Herakleion Archeological Museum; the Archeological site of Knossos and the Spinalonga island on Crete.
The list also includes the Archaeological Museum of Drama; the Church of Panagia Kosmosoteira (Our Lady, Saviour of the World), in Ferres; the Grevena Archaeological Collection; the Museum of Asian Art, Corfu; the Archaeological Collection of Arta; the Byzantine Museum of Ioannina; the Ioannina Treasury; the Fortress of Ioannina; the Igoumenitsa Archaeological Museum; the Nekromanteion of Acheron; the Athanasakeion Archaeological Museum in Volos; the Archeological site of Nea Aghialos, Magnesia; the Byzantine Museum of Fthiotida at Ypati; the Monastery of Osios Loukas; the Corinth Archeological Museum.
Ministry of Culture & Tourism:  Brief Guides to Archaeological Museums in Greece Part I & Part II; YouTube: Culture in Greece [VIDEO] [Photo 3: The Nekromanteion of Acheron – Oracle of the Dead]
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

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Christmas in Greece

Traditionally, the Christmas holiday period in Greece lasts 12 days, until January 6, which marks the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Theophany (Epiphany).
There are many customs associated with the Christmas holidays, some of which are relatively recent, “imported” from other parts of the world (like eating turkey on Christmas day and decorating the Christmas tree).
The modern Christmas tree entered Greece in the luggage of the country’s first king, Otto of Greece, who ascended to the throne in 1833 – yet, the tree did not become popular until the 1940s.
In the past, Greeks decorated small Christmas boats in honour of St. Nicholas. Today, they are increasingly choosing to decorate boats, instead of trees, reviving this age-old Christmas tradition. Undoubtedly, celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Greece is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Xmas: A Word of Greek Origin
Where did “Xmas” come from? Some transliterations of Greek spell Christos as “Xristos.” The “X” stood in for the first letter of the word Christ (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ).
“Xmas” has been used for hundreds of years in religious writing, where the X represents the Greek letter X (chi). While in modern times Xmas is regarded as a kind of slang, it was originally considered to be a perfectly respectful.
Christmas (“Χριστούγεννα”), the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus is one of the most joyful days of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Christmas Elves
Greece’s hobgoblins are called “kallikántzari,” friendly but troublesome little creatures which look like elves. Kallikantzari live deep down inside the earth and come to surface only during the 12-day period from Christmas until Epiphany. While on the earth’s surface, they love to hide in houses, slipping down chimneys and frightening people in various ways.
Throughout Greece, there are customs and numerous rituals performed to keep these hobgoblins away. In Epirus, residents place twelve spindles in front of the fireplace to prevent the kalikantzari from climbing down the chimney.
On Christmas Eve, in the town of Grevena, people place a large log in the corner of the house and set it alight. As the fire burns, lasting until the Feast of the Epiphany, it protects the family from the naughty kalikantzari. On the island of Cephalonia, women burn incense at the front door of their houses making the sign of the cross in order to repel these undesirable “guests.”
The “kallikántzari” disappear on the day of Epiphany when all the waters are blessed, and they return to the earth’s core.
Sweets & Treats
Traditional culinary delights symbolise good luck in the New Year and adorn the white-clothed tables. “Melomakarona” (honey cookies) and “kourabiedes” (sugar cookies with almonds) are the most characteristic. In the past, melomakarona were made exclusively for Christmas, while kourabiedes were prepared for the New Year.
Today, this distinction is not observed anymore and both melomakarona and kourabiedes are prepared and consumed throughout the festive season.
Another traditional custom that dates back to the Byzantine times is the slicing of the Vassilopita (St.Basil’s pie or New Year Cake). The person who finds the hidden coin in his/her slice of the cake, is considered to be lucky for the rest of the year.
At the meal table there is also a special decorated round loaf called “Vasilopsomo” or St. Basil’s bread -which is really identical in form to the “Christopsomo” or “Christ bread” eaten on Christmas Day – and the “Photitsa” or “Lights’ bread” that is eaten on Epiphany.
“Kalanda” or Carols
The singing of Christmas carols (or kalanda, in Greek) is a custom which is preserved in its entirety to this day. On Christmas and New Year Eve, children go from house to house in groups of two or more singing the carols, accompanied usually by the sounds of the musical instrument “triangle,” but also guitars, accordions, lyres and harmonicas.
Until some time ago, carollers were rewarded with pastries but nowadays they are usually given money. Listen to some sound extracts with Greek Christmas carols (Kalanda) from Ikaria Island. Things to Do, Places to Go…. 
A Christmas spirit is taking over the squares and streets of the country’s major cities, as local authorities organise a variety of events and festivities, culminating with New Year’s Eve countdown parties in central squares.
Festivities in Athens revolve around Syntagma Square and its Christmas tree, with daily concerts throughout the season, while the National Garden turns into storybook Magical Forest for children.
Thessaloniki runs the country’s biggest Christmas village: the Helexpo pavilions are hosting Christmas Magic City, featuring shows, workshops and a big Christmas market.
The north-western city of Kastoria celebrates with “ragoutsaria,” the local carnival that starts on New Year’s Day, with every neighbourhood forming a carnival group, complete with brass band. In Agios Nikolaos, Crete, the New Year will come from the sea, with the New Year’s Eve party at the port, and Santa arriving on a boat.
And Holiday Performances
Venues and clubs participate in the Christmas spirit with special holiday performances.
The National Opera’s Christmas rich programme includes the Snow Queen ballet and Hansel and Gretel opera for children.
The Athens Concert Hall hosts the Bolshoi Theatre Academy on December 22-29, in a much-awaited performance of the Nutcracker, and the London Community Gospel Choir on December 27-28.
The recently inaugurated Onassis Cultural Centre presents Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée and Victoria Chaplin in their phantasmagoric yet poetic Invisible Circus, on December 28-30 and January 1-2.
At the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, on December 27 & 28, the Sounds of Christmas Go Baroque: a festive concert featuring Baroque Concertos.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visits Poland

His All Holiness, Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch started a visit to Poland on Monday.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at Maria Magdalene Church in Warsaw

While in Poland Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will visit Warsaw, Lublin and the Holy Mountain of Grabarka to attend the Transfiguration feast celebrations in the sanctuary, PAP was told by spokesperson for the Polish Orthodox Church father Henryk Paprocki.
The Transfiguration is the biggest Orthodox feast in Poland. Pilgrimages to Grabarka, the main Orthodox cult site in Poland, date back to 1710.
On Tuesday Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will meet with Sejm Speaker Grzegorz Schetyna.
On Friday he will receive an honorary doctorate of the John Paul II Catholic Lublin University during a ceremony in Lublin.
There are from 550 to 600 thousand Orthodox faithful in Poland, mainly in the Podlasie northeastern region.
(PAP) 

Patriarcha Konstantynopola Bartłomiej I z wizytą w Polsce

Na zaproszenie polskiej cerkwi prawosławnej w poniedziałek po południu przyjeżdża ekumeniczny patriarcha Konstantynopola Bartłomiej I.

Jak poinformował PAP rzecznik polskiej cerkwi ks. Henryk Paprocki, patriarcha Bartłomiej odwiedzi: Warszawę, Lublin i Świętą Górę Grabarkę koło Siemiatycz, gdzie weźmie udział w prawosławnych obchodach uroczystości Przemienienia Pańskiego i 300. rocznicy pierwszego cudu w tym miejscu.
W pierwszym dniu wizyty patriarcha weźmie udział w nabożeństwie w prawosławnej Cerkwi Marii Magdaleny na warszawskiej Pradze, a we wtorek ma się spotkać z marszałkiem Sejmu Grzegorzem Schetyną. Continue reading

Antiparos:Caves, History and Cycladic Charm

Paros has for years been a household name even to those who have never visited the Greek islands.
But Antiparos – just 30 minutes by boat from Parikia, the capital of Paros, or a mere six minutes by ferry from Paros’ popular Pounta Beach – has yet to be discovered by more than those who have already been initiated in its hidden treasures:
One of the oldest and loveliest stalactite and stalagmite caves in the world; the remains of a Venetian Castle built in 1440 to protect inhabitants from pirate raids; innumerable white churches with blue domes scattered all over the island; secluded emerald beaches.
On Faneromeni beach, at the small church of Panagia Faneromeni, the September 7 annual Festival will once again treat lucky visitors with grilled octopus, tsikoudia – and warm hospitality.

To the south-west of Antiparos lies uninhabited Despotiko islet, the archaeological findings of which are turning it into an Archaeological Park.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Ελένη Γλύκατζη-Αρβελέρ “Γιατί το Βυζάντιο”

Γιατί το Βυζάντιο

Το «Γιατί το Βυζάντιο», το καινούργιο βιβλίο της Ελένης Γλύκατζη-Αρβελέρ, γραμμένο απευθείας στα ελληνικά, αποτελεί ένα απόσταγμα σχεδόν βιωματικό, από την πολύχρονη διδασκαλία της διαπρεπούς βυζαντινολόγου στη Σορβόννη. Απευθύνεται στο ευρύ κοινό και ειδικά σε εκείνους που τους απασχολεί το ζήτημα της ελληνικής ιστορικής συνέχειας.
«Το πόνημα αυτό», αναφέρει η ίδια, «απευθύνεται σε όσους από τους Νεοέλληνες ταλανίζονται με το πρόβλημα της ελληνικής ιστορικής συνέχειας και στους ξένους (κυρίως τους Δυτικοευρωπαίους και τους Αμερικανούς βλαστούς τους) που αρκούνται στην επιλεκτική γνώση του παρελθόντος τους, άσχετα από κάθε ιστορική πραγματικότητα και με μόνο μέλημα τη δικαίωση μιας σύγχρονης πολιτικής προσέγγισης, που υπαγορεύουν συμφέροντα και ενδιαφέροντα, ξένα συχνά από την ιστορία και το αντικείμενό της».
Η συγγραφέας επιχειρεί να αποσαφηνίσει το Βυζάντιο δια του Βυζαντίου, με πολλαπλές αναφορές σε κείμενα – κλειδιά (Τριακονταετηρικός του Ευσεβίου, Κοσμογραφία του Κοσμά Ινδικοπλεύστη, Τακτικά του Λέοντος ΣΤ’ τυο Σοφού, Βίος Ιακώβου του Νεοφωτίστου, Σχόλια του Τζέτζη, Επαναγωγή κ.ά.), τα οποία, κατά τη γνώμη της, εκφράζουν συνοπτικά τα χαρακτηριστικά της βυζαντινής ψυχοσύνθεσης ή σημαδεύουν παραστατικά τομές και στροφές της ιστορίας του Βυζαντίου.
Ο στόχος της Ελένης Γλύκατζη-Αρβελέρ είναι ο εξής, όπως τον διατυπώνει στον Πρόλογό της: «Να βάλω, κατά το δυνατόν, έστω εκ του πλαγίου και λάθρα σχεδόν, το Βυζάντιο στη θέση που τα επιτεύγματά του μας υπαγορεύουν: να πω συνοπτικά, εννοώ, αυτά που το αναδεικνύουν ως την πρώτη ευρωπαϊκή αυτοκρατορία και που εξηγούν, όχι μόνο το πολιτιστικό μεγαλείο του (και αυτό ανεπαρκώς ακόμη γνωστό), αλλά και την ασυνήθη για παγκόσμια δύναμη (όπως ήταν κάποτε το Βυζάντιο) μακροβιότητά του».
Η επιλογή των θεμάτων που αναπτύσσονται σχετίζεται κυρίως με φαινόμενα μακράς διαρκείας και μπορούν να ερμηνεύσουν το «Γιατί» της βυζαντινής πολιτικής εμβέλειας (εξ ου και ο τίτλος «Γιατί το Βυζάντιο»).
Αναλύονται οι σχέσεις της πολιτείας με την εκκλησία (αυτοκράτορα και πατριάρχη), του κέντρου με την περιφέρεια (Κωνσταντινούπολης και επαρχιών), του Βυζαντίου με τους πολυποίκιλους γείτονές του, φίλους, συμμάχους ή εχθρούς. Οι συνοριακές συρρικνώσεις, οι δογματικές διαμάχες, οι στρατιωτικοπολιτικές αντιπαλότητες και οι άνισες κοινωνικές διαβαθμίσεις που ρύθμιζαν την καθεστηκυία τάξη εξηγούν τη δυσκολία της βυζαντινής κοινωνίας αλλά και της πολιτικής να ανταποκριθεί στις απαιτήσεις των καιρών. Η πτώση της αυτοκρατορίας πρώτα στα χέρια των Σταυροφόρων (1204) και τελικά στους Οθωμανούς (1453) προλογίζουν την χαλεπότητα της μετέπειτα εποχής που θεμέλιό της ωστόσο μένει η πολύχρονη βυζαντινή εμπειρία: θρησκευτική, ιδεολογική και βιωματική. Απόηχός της ως τις μέρες μας μπορεί να θεωρηθεί η αμφίσημη σχέση των Νεοελλήνων με τη Δύση και με την Ανατολή, πρόβλημα της νεοελληνικής ταυτότητας.
Εκδόσεις: Ελληνικά Γράμματα

Orthodoxy and Innovation

(GREEK NEWS AGENCY)   Orthodoxy and Innovation in the Greek-speaking world from Byzantium to the 21st century, June 5-7 2009, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The symposium touches upon a theme which has been seldom researched within European cultural, social and religious studies. The symposium will attempt to understand how the Orthodox Church and theology have been, through innovation, a contributory cause of change in society and culture in different historic periods. University of Copenhagen: Studying Modern Greek; European Society of Modern Greek Studies: Upcoming Conferences