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“Kali Patrida” Greek Communities of Political Refugees in Eastern Europe

By the end of the Greek Civil War (1946-49), Greece was in a tragic state. The human loss and physical destruction incurred in this conflict was added to the suffering and damage already accumulated during World War II and the occupation. One of the most dramatic consequences of the Civil War was the odyssey of thousands of Greek men, women and children who settled in Eastern Europe and the USSR – mainly in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
The Hellenic Parliament Foundation for Parliamentarianism and Democracy is hosting until December 31, 2011, an exhibition titled Kali Patrida… Greek Communities of political refugees in Eastern Europe.
The exhibition draws on material (printed and audiovisual) from many sources, both from Greece and abroad in order to shed light on particular themes in the lives of political refugees: their establishment in the host countries (East Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Uzbekistan); their children’s education, their communities, their efforts to preserve their distinctive cultural heritage as well as their repatriation.
“Kali patrida” meaning “Happy Homecoming,” is actually a wish political refugees shared, expressing their nostalgia for their homeland.
ERT Archive: Documentary: Second Homeland – Episode: Stepmother Homeland & Michalis Gkanas: The history of my times [VIDEO]; TVXS: Writer Alki Zei talks about the Civil War [VIDEO]
ODYSSEY Magazine about Greece and the Greek Diaspora: Features-Our Town Beloiannisz in Hungary
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

 

Tribute to poet Odysseus Elytis

On November 2, 2011 Greece commemorates the 100th anniversary since the birth of poet laureate Odysseus Elytis. To mark the centenary of his birth, 2011 has been designated as Elytis Year by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Odysseus Elytis was born in Heraklion, Crete on November 2, 1911 and died in Athens on March 18, 1996.
A major poet in Greek language, Elytis is also one of the outstanding international figures of 20th-century poetry. Elytis’ poetry has marked, through an active presence of over forty years, a broad spectrum of subjects with a rarefied and passionate stylistic touch. The first collections of poetry (Orientations, 1939, and Sun the First, 1943) are joyous and radiant, celebrating the Greek landscape as an ideal world of sensual enjoyment and moral purity.
His experience of the war in 1940s marks a departure from the sunny atmosphere of his early youth and poetry, colouring his long poem Heroic and Elegiac Song for the Lost Second Lieutenant of Albania (1943). The attempt of Elytis to identify himself with the nation and speak for himself and also for his country reaches its peak with Axion Esti (‘Worthy It Is,’ 1959), his central and most ambitious work for which he was awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize for Literature.
His experience of the war in 1940s marks a departure from the sunny atmosphere of his early youth and poetry, colouring his long poem Heroic and Elegiac Song for the Lost Second Lieutenant of Albania (1943). The attempt of Elytis to identify himself with the nation and speak for himself and also for his country reaches its peak with Axion Esti (‘Worthy It Is,’ 1959), his central and most ambitious work for which he was awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Centenary Celebrations
The Athens Concert Hall is paying tribute to Odysseus Elytis by holding a two-day (October 31 to November 1) international conference titled Odysseus Elytis: The 20th century in the poetry of Elytis. The poetry of Elytis in the 21st century, exploring new approaches in the interpretation of his work.
On November 2 and 3, there will be an event of original music by George Kouroupos under the title Odysseus Elytis’ This Small, this Great World!, with poetry and prose set to music, representing the main facets of the work of Odysseus Elytis: lyricism, a restless spirit of inquiry, courage, spirituality, sensation and true emotions. Continue reading

2010: 34.000 Foreign Media News Items on Greek Crisis

The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) together with the Association of Greek Press Attaches hosted a conference on Foreign Media and Greece’s country image in the economic crisis on May 31. 
According to statistical figures presented, in 2010 only, foreign media from 28 countries reported on the Greek economic crisis publishing 34,000 news items, which represents 60% of the total amount of news items on Greece altogether for the year.
Britain was the country with the most copious reports on Greece in general and the London Financial Times was the newspaper, which covered the economic crisis more frequently and extensively, at a global level.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Foreign Media and Greece`s Country Image in the Economic Crisis

On May 31, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) together with the Association of Greek Press Attaches is hosting a conference on Foreign Media and Greece’s country image in the economic crisis.
The event will be held at the premises of the Secretariat General of Information in Athens. The conference will be addressed by the General Director of the Greek Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) Yannis Stournaras, the General Director of the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Martin Knapp, journalist Maria Houkli, French media correspondent, Alexia Kefalas and Bodossakis Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, George Tzogopoulos.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

World Poetry Day – 2011 Elytis Year

Odysseas Elytis and his work will be the focus of this year’s World Poetry Day, which is celebrated each year on March 21.
The National Book Centre of Greece (EKEBI) launches a poetry campaign including several events.
One of the day’s highlights is an event jointly organized by EKEBI and the Hellenic Authors’ Society which brings together well-known poets and writers such as Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, Vassilis Vasilikos, Kiki Dimoula and Evgenia Fakinou to recite poems by Odysseas Elytis.
Athenians and citizens of Thessaloniki, Mytillini, Rhodes and Zakynthos will have the opportunity to come across illustrated verses by Elytis as public transport means will feature some of the Nobel laureate’s most beloved and renowned poems. Poetry reading nights, with young poets will also be held in Athens and Thessaloniki.
Moreover in Athens, poet Nanos Valaoritis will present a new theory regarding Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey at the Hellenic American Union, while at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, World Poetry Day will be celebrated through poetry, music and stand-up poetry.
The year 2011 has been designated as an Elytis Year by Culture and Tourism Ministry, in order to mark the 100th anniversary since the birth of the Nobel laureate poet.
Nobel Prize Organisation: Excerpt from Worthy It Is, Poetry International Web- Odysseas Elytis: I Lived the Beloved Name, Drinking the Sun of Corinth, Marina of the Rocks, The Wind That Loiters.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

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)

El Greco`s masterpiece in Thessaloniki

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) “The Coronation of the Virgin,” one of the masterpieces painted by Doménicos Theotokópoulos, widely known as El Greco, is currently exhibited at the Teloglion Foundation of Art in Thessaloniki. 
The oil painting on canvas (57 x 79.3 cm), dates back to 1603-1605, the creative period of the artist. El Greco painted this masterpiece for the chapel of the Hospital de la Caridad near Todelo.
The painting was acquired by the Alexandros S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation in 2008 and is temporarily housed in the National Gallery until the completion of the “Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens.”
“The Coronation of the Virgin” will be on display at Teloglion Foundation until May, 2010.

Cacoyannis Foundation: A new Cultural Centre

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias officially inaugurated on March 9, the “Michael Cacoyannis Foundation,” housed in an Athens downtown building.
The Foundation’s building is designed to serve as a cultural centre for performing arts and is meant to preserve Cacoyannis oeuvre for future generation.
The official inauguration is to be followed by a series of events, including a costume and photography exhibition from Cacoyannis’s work for the cinema, opera and theatre.
Cypriot-born Michael Cacoyannis is the director of world acclaimed films, among which Stella, Electra, Zorba the Greek and The Trojan Women
Athens News (5.3.2010) Cacoyannis’ cultural centre

Melina Mercouri: A tribute to the “last Greek Goddess”

Sixteen years have passed since Melina Mercouri, one of the great women of Greece, died on March 6, 1994. On the 16th anniversary of her death, as well as of International Women’s Day (March 8), the Eugenides Foundation is hosting an exhibition-tribute to the late, multifaceted actress and politician, emphasizing her relationship to education and culture. 
Internationally acclaimed actress, singer and politician, Melina was characterized by many as the epitome of womanhood, as well as the “last Greek Goddess.”
An ardent supporter of the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum, Melina, as minister of Culture, openly claimed them and devoted herself to this goal.
The exhibition titled “Melina-Education-Culture” will run from March 9 to April 8. 
Melina Mercouri Foundation: www.melinamercourifoundation.org.gr
Greek News Agenda: Melina Mercouri: “Culture is Greece’s heavy industry

Online petition to save department of Greek Studies at King`s College London

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) A petition has been submitted in an effort to persuade King’s College London not to dismantle the department of Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies at the university.
“We would like to express our deep concerns over the projected dismemberment of the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at King’s College London. […]

The great strength of King’s has always been that it is the only university in the UK to offer a combined programme in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, thus  emphasising the importance of continuity through the centuries,” reads the petition which may be found at:
http://www.petitiononline.com/sdbmgs10/petition.html
Foundation of the Hellenic World:  The Byzantine Empire &  
Modern Greek Studies Association: www.mgsa.org & European Society for Modern Greek Studies: www.eens.org

Greece`s Ottoman Past

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Approximately six hundred relics of the Ottoman period were found in Greece, according to a research study, conducted by the Istanbul-based Marmara University Professor Neval Konouk, during the last 2,5 years, commissioned by the Turkish ministry for Foreign Affairs, in 2007. 

According to Dr. Konouk’s comments to the Turkish daily Aksam on February 8, the complete survey will take the form of eight volumes, when completed in 2015, and the texts will be in Turkish, English and Greek.  
According to her research, much more Ottoman relics have been preserved, than originally considered.
As Dr. Konouk noted, “a tenth of the Ottoman relics located in Greece, representing 600 cases in total, have been saved.”  
In a relative development, the Greek Ministry of Culture has published in Greek and English, a 494 – pages special volume, titled “Ottoman Architecture in Greece.”
Institute for Neohellenic Research: Ottoman Epigraphy; Foundation of the Hellenic World: Ottoman Period

Cultural ties with Georgia

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The Institute of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the Tbilisi State University has undertaken the initiative to compile the first Modern Greek-Georgian Dictionary, containing 50,000 words. The project was funded by the Kostas and Eleni Ourani Foundation

The Greek element has been present in Georgia since antiquity. The first trips had commercial purpose and within years, the first cultural enclaves were established.
The two early Georgian kingdoms of late antiquity were known to ancient Greeks as Iberia in the east and Colchis in the West.
The Western part was strongly influenced by Greek culture – as evidenced in Greek mythology and the story of Jason seeking the Golden Fleece in Colchis – and the eastern part by the Persians.
Greeks in Georgia established ties with the Byzantine Empire, building on a common religious background.
Until recently (1989), the Greek community in Georgia counted some 100,000 residents, but nowadays the population totals between 15,000- 20,000. 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greeks in Georgia; Photo: “The Argonauts”, a publication by the Institute of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the Tbilisi State University.

Greece: The Culture Agenda

» VISUAL ARTS

                                     Tribute to Ianis Xenakis

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in association with the Center for Music Composition & Performance (CMCP) is organizing a second series of events in tribute to the composer Ianis Xenakis.
The events are taking place from September 15 to October 11.

“Itinerary to Mount Athos, 1928-1930” Boissonnas_sofia_1

The exhibition “Itinerary to Mount Athos, 1928-1930” features a selection from the 400 photographs taken by Swiss photographer Frédéric Boissonnas during his travels to Mount Athos in 1928 and 1930.
The exhibition is organised by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, in Sofia and runs from September 16 through October 25.

» MUSIC

                                     Jose Carreras returns to Athens

Legendary tenor Jose Carreras returns to Greece after four years since his last appearance for a concert with the ERT National Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of David Gimenez, on 19 September at the Herod Atticus Odeon (Herodion) in Athens.

Amadou & Mariam in Athens

Amadou & Mariam, the two musicians who manage to overcome all obstacles to become international stars and ambassadors of Mali’s musical tradition throughout the world, will be appearing live in Athens 18 September at the Papagou Garden Theatre.

The Spaghetti Western Orchestra @ Badminton Theatre

Armed with over 100 instruments the Spaghetti Western Orchestra is performing in Athens the stunning music Ennio Morricone wrote for movies such as “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “For a Few Dollars More” and “Once Upon a Time in the West.” At the Badminton Theatre from September 16 to 25.

12th Symi Symposium: Progressive Governance

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The 12th annual Symi Symposium is taking place on the island of Skiathos on July 12-16. Held under the aegis of the Andreas Papandreou Foundation, the Symi symposia bring together leading academics, entrepreneurs, politicians, religious leaders, diplomats, scientists, and activists to develop progressive policy solutions to global challenges. The first such symposium was held in 1998 on the island of Symi, which has lent its name to the event ever since. This year’s theme is ‘Putting People First – Progressive Governance for a Green Economy and a Just Society’. The aim is to explore the steps required to lay the foundations for stable economic growth, environmental protection and social cohesion.  This year’s invited participants include Columbia University Business School professor and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences (2001), Joseph Stiglitz, French Socialist Party’s former presidential candidate Segolene Royal, World Bank Vice President and Greenpeace International Executive Director, Gerd Leipold.

Foundation for Hellenic Culture: History Lost

history-lost_sm(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    History Lost” a multimedia exhibition organized by the Foundation for Hellenic Culture has been already presented in Nicosia, Athens, Trieste, Lisbon, Dublin, Brussels and Belgrade.  Forthcoming destinations include Paris, London, Frankfurt and Alexandria. “History Lost” aims at alerting countries worldwide, thus emphasizing the universal dimension of the issue of illicit antiquities trade. The collection exhibited comprises exact replicas of artefacts that have returned to Greece and Cyprus in recent years.  Hellenic Foundation for Culture: On line Exhibitions

Greece – Serbia Connection

Papoulias in Belgrade
papouliasserbia1(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) 
President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias is on a two-day official visit in Serbia. Papoulias was warmly received by his Serbian counterpart Boris Tadić in Belgrade yesterday (July 2), where they held talks on bilateral relations and the European prospect of Serbia. Tadić thanked Greece for its position on the Kosovo issue. On his part, Papoulias emphasised the great importance of Serbia as a strategic partner and interlocutor for Greece. “Serbia can and should play a stabilising role […] in the region of Balkans” stated Papoulias, while stressing Greece’s support for Serbia’s accession to the European family and the ongoing initiative within the EU to lift visa restrictions for Serbian people. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Bilateral Relations Greece-Serbia; Greek News Agenda: Relations with Serbia  
Hellenic Culture Foundation in Belgrade
belgrad_ktirio5The Hellenic Culture Foundation Centre in Belgrade was inaugurated July 3, in the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias and his Serbian counterpart Boris Tadić. The new HCF centre will promote relations between the two countries in the field of education, as the Greek language has been taught for more than twenty years in Serbian Universities, and the same is true for the Serbian language in Greek Universities. Moreover, the HFC Centre in Belgrade will offer the study of the Greek language and will organise cultural events in collaboration with the local educational and cultural institutions.

Greece: Bodossaki Prize

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The Board of Trustees of the Bodossaki Foundation decided to award the “Bodossaki Aristeio” (Bodossaki Prize) for the year 2009 to John Hopkins University Professor Evangelos Moudrianakis for his pioneering studies in the field of Bio-Medicine.   The award ceremony will be held today (June 17) at the University of Athens in the presence of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.  The Aristeio Bodossaki – which is accompanied by the sum of €150,000 and is awarded every two years – was instituted to give recognition to Greeks who have devoted their lives to science and have made a distinctive contribution towards furthering their field of science.

Aegean Archipelago Portal

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The Foundation of the Hellenic World (IME) has announced the launch of a “Cultural Portal of the Aegean Archipelago” at www.egeonet.gr, which presents the history, culture and natural environment of the islands of the Aegean, from the prehistoric times to date. The site contains information on both the history and culture of each island as well as historic and socio-cultural issues pertaining to the wider area such as shipping, piracy, Aegean archaeology, popular culture and demography.

New Onassis Prize: Environment Protection

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    The President of the Onassis Public Benefit Foundation Antonis Papadimitriou and Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust announced in the German city’s Town Hall on Thursday (28.5) the establishment of a new International Onassis Prize which would bear the name “Aristotle Onassis Prize for the Protection of the Environment.”   The Prize will be awarded every two years for “outstanding contributions towards protecting and improving the environment, including the long-term economical use of energy.”  The first award will be handed out in autumn 2010 in Hamburg and will be accompanied by a cash prize amounting to €250,000.

Greece through Eyes of Children

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  An exhibition of paintings titled “Greece through the eyes of children” is on display at the Odessa Hellenic Foundation for Culture (HFC) Branch until the end of July.  The exhibition showcases works by children who participated in the 14th pan-Ukrainian painting competition – an initiative of the HFC branch in Odessa, organized annually since 1996.