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)

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PM George Papandreou: A Year of Consolidation and Reform

Greece’s image at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos was “positive”, Prime Minister George Papandreou said on January 28, on the sidelines of the forum. As Papandreou said, there was across-the-board acknowledgement of Greece’s efforts and of the Greek people’s and government’s determination to carry on with the reforms.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Die Presse, Papandreou reiterated that debt restructuring is not an option for Greece stressing the efforts to achieve an extension of the repayment period of the EU-IMF loans.
See also: A year of consolidation and reform – Greece meets ambitious targets in 2010
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM`s press conference for the first 100 days of the government

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The year 2010 was the time for Greece to make a new start and major changes, Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed on Wednesday during a press conference held to mark the completion of 100 days since PASOK was sworn in as the new government.
“It is time to change everything, to turn the crisis into an opportunity.
We have already shown that we are capable of doing this, that we can be leaders and not laggards,” Papandreou said, emphasising that the government was determined not to fall into the inertia of its predecessors and had already made important changes at every ministry, while several deep reforms were now in the process of being introduced.
Among these he listed the effort to establish a new taxation system, overhauling the social insurance system, and initiating a debate on local administration reform and a new electoral law.Reviewing his government’s course during the first 100 days, he admitted that some mistakes have been made but stressed that the government is prepared to take corrective action when this proves necessary.
“We are determined to do the things for which we were elected by Greek men and women.
It is this that gives us the strength to not back down,” he underlined, and urged everyone to join the “democratic front” in order to democratically restructure the country.

International Astronomy Year 2009 in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

The Athens National Observatory’s Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics has scheduled a number of events to mark the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (April 205) – initiated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO – aimed at ensuring the broadest possible participation of the general public, while introducing more people to the secrets of outer space. Until April 5, internet users may visit the website www.astro.noa.gr and ask questions to the National Observatory astronomers, while a series of lectures, film screenings and telescope presentations are also scheduled.  Events will be held at the Astronomy Stations in Penteli and Krioneri as well as at the the Helmos Observatory in Kalavryta, southern Greece.

Christmas in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Traditionally the “Christmas holiday period” in Greece lasts 12 days, until January 6 (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, decorating the Christmas tree). Greeks are increasingly choosing to decorate small Christmas boats (see picture) instead of trees, which are widely considered an imported custom. The modern Christmas tree entered Greece in the luggage of the country’s first king, Otto of Bavaria, who ascended to the throne in 1833 but the tree did not become popular before the 1940s.Still, Christmas in Greece maintains, in many respects, its originality, particularly in rural areas.
Christmas: 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 abbreviation, especially as it included a form of the cross in the shape of the “X”. Christmas (“Χριστούγεννα”), the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus is one of the most joyful days of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Christmas Sweets
In the past, the honey cookies (melomakarona) were made exclusively for Christmas, while sugar cookies, or kourabiedes, were prepared for the New Year. Today, though, 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 (Basil’s cake or New Year Cake). The person who finds the hidden coin in his/her slice of the cake, is considered to be blessed for the rest of the year.
Christmas 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 triangle, but also of guitars, accordions, lyres or harmonicas. Until some time ago they were rewarded with pastries but nowadays they are usually given money. Listen to some sound extracts with Greek Christmas carols (Kalanda) from different parts of Greece. Thrace & Pontus & Epirus & Ikaria Island
Christmas Elves
Kalikantzari are little creatures that live deep down inside the earth and together with the legends of Greece, play an important part in the customs and traditions of this holiday. From Christmas until the Feast of the Epiphany, residents in Epirus place twelve spindles in front of the fireplace so that the kalikantzari see them and do not climb down the chimney. On Christmas Eve, in the town of Grevena, the followers 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 kalikantzari.

Decoding the Heavens by the Antikythera mechanism

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    antikythera-mechanismJo Marchant, Decoding The Heavens, William Heinemann 2008. Humanity’s need for purpose seems universal.  Regardless of our belief system, perhaps the beginning of winter is the best time to contemplate meaning and purpose.  How affirming and humbling to realize we are still so similar to others from the past.  The Antikythera mechanism (www.antikythera-mechanism.gr), calculated the motions of the sun, moon and planets and predicted eclipses using intricate gear mechanisms created over 2000 years ago.  Now scientists are reconstructing the device and finding that ancient Greek technology was far more advanced than previously thought.  “Historians have often scoffed at the Greeks for wasting their technology on toys rather than doing anything useful with it. If they had the steam engine, why not use it to do work?” But these devices may have been “a way to get closer to the true meaning of things. To what better use could technology be put?” The size of a shoebox, the Antikythera mechanism – a mysterious bronze device scooped out of a Roman-era shipwreck at the dawn of the 20th century, off the island of Antikythera (www.antikythira.gr), has baffled scientists for years and proved to be a  calculator used by the Ancient Greeks more than 2,000 years ago. New Scientist (12.12.2008): Archimedes and the 2000-year-old computer; Ancient computer recreated; Nature science journal (31.7.2008): Streaming video: Antikythera

Christmas and New Year in Athens

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   This year’s festivities for Christmas and New Year, organized by the City of Athens, began officially yesterday (16.12), when Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis turned on the lights on the Christmas tree at Syntagma Square. The square was filled with the melodies of the City of Athens Philharmonic Orchestra and songs of the Spyros Lambrou Children’s Choir. Fireworks lit up Athens skies while the City of Athens Music Ensembles, Big Band, staged a concert. Syntagma Square will be the centre of the festive celebrations in Athens with special structures, games and the magic carousel. Individuals of all ages will have the opportunity to enjoy classic and jazz melodies, Christmas songs and carols from around the world, Byzantine hymns and traditional dances while kids can expect plenty of surprises and a range of educational and entertainment activities. City of Athens – Christmas in Athens Calendar of Events