“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)

 
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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.