Now that Christmas is just around the corner, it’s time we learnt some things about Greek customs and traditions. Today’s story is about KALIKANTZARI.
They are the Greek elves; only not so benign. They are naughty and mischievous and they live in the center of the earth where they try to cut down the tree that holds the earth with axes and saws. When Christmas comes, as their job is nearly done, they leave the rest for New Year, and climb up onto the surface of the earth to tease people. They try to get into the houses through the fireplaces and stay there teasing people from the beginning of Christmas season until the 6th of January, the Epiphany when the priest goes around all houses and sends them away with Holy water. Once they go back to the center of the earth, they find the tree whole and intact, so they start sawing all over again until the next Christmas.
Now, whenever everything goes wrong one day, you know why! Put the blame on the Kalikantzari
On Saturday 17/10 we had the privilege of sharing the dream of this man with him.
Professor Miller, the archaeologist who has dedicated his whole life on the excavation first and the revival of the Games then, met us at the Museum and gave us a long tour of the museum, the site, and then told us stories about his early days there. We also saw the trailer of the film that has been made by Yiannis Lapatas about the previous games in 2012.
We didn’t want him to stop talking, but eventually he did. It’s always an experience to become part of such an exceptional person’s dream !
As always, after that we went eating at a small taverna in a village nearby, where the food was great, the company was great, the wine was great, – we didn’t visit a winery this time, but we are already working on it, we promise !
Now guess what our next plan is ! We will organise our support and participation in the Nemean Games of June 2016, so stay tuned.
Heading to OUR “Passage into History”
After a quick stop at the Corinth Canal for a coffee and some photos…
… we arrive at the village of Ancient Nemea
In the museum, fascinated by Pr. Miller’s stories,
At the archaeological site
The Baths of the athletes
The Temple of Nemean Zeus
Pr. Miller talking to us about the restoration of the columns of the temple
The “undressing room” (apodyterion)
Passing through the entrance Tunnel to the Stadium
Inscriptions inside the entrance tunnel
entering the stadium…
Pr. Miller explaining us about the mechanism of the starting line (balbis)
and the winner is …
In Pr. Miller’s office
The documentary about his dream of reviving the ancient Nemean Games
As always we finished our trip eating at a small taverna in a village nearby.
The guided tour at the Ancient Agora was one of the most interesting and successful tours. It was a very hot day, in spite of the weather forecast, that had announced clouds, so Elli tried to do all the tour in the shade under the trees. Through her stories, we could actually picture a typical day of an Athinian. She was amazing as usual !
After the tour, some of us went to the food festival at Technopolis Gazi, where he had the chance to taste flavors from all over Greece. Many thanks to Athinorama for their special OFFER of 2 for 1 tickets, as well as the FREE invitations they offered to our group so generously.
Photo: the celebration of the Sanctification of the Water in Naousa
Today, January 6th, is the celebration of the Sanctification of the Water, the Epiphany or Fota , meaning that the water was blessed when Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan by Saint John the Baptist.
The day is celebrated all over Greece with the priest throwing the cross into the sea, a river, a lake or any body of water near each area and young men jumping into the -usually cold -water trying to catch it. The one who catches it is supposed to be blessed all year long.
I remember when I was a kid the priest used to go around the houses of the neighbourhood and bless them with holy water, but I haven’t seen that for some time now.
The point of this holiday is the Enlightenment through the appearance of God (THEOFANIA) and the blessing.
Except for the waters, we can think of many people who DESPERATELY need BLESSING and ENLIGHTMENT here and now,
Or better, we knew A LOT about Plaka, but not all…
… and then, along came Aristotelis, to disclose secrets spots that we had not been aware of, like the house with the glass floor and the ruins underneath, the importance of the Tower of the Winds in the everyday life of the Athenians, the house with the statue at its facade, and a lot more…
The Mascot of our Tour !!!
We began our Tour where the previous one (“Must See Athens”) had finished, at Hadrian’s Arch.
Strolling around Plaka
A “Polikatikia” with … a glass floor !
The bell of independence
Temple of The Winds
It was a tour that we all enjoyed very much and it was followed (as always), by lunch at a picturesque beer spot in Psyrri, where we will be hosting a beer tasting event in the near future.
“We had a very interested follower last weekend on the “Must See Plaka” tour in Athens. He walked with us, he stopped were we stopped, and he seemed to understand most of the history we were told by our great guide Aristoteles”.
Comment & photo by our friend Kim.
We are starting a new series of visits to small – mostly unknown – Museums, art galleries, exhibitions and workshops. Let’s meet:
Little Hidden Gems in Athens
Spyros Vassiliou (1903-1985) was a Greek painter, printmaker, illustrator, and stage designer. He became widely recognized for his work starting in the 1930s, when he received the Benaki Prize from the Athens Academy. The recipient of a Guggenheim Prize for Greece (in 1960), Spyros Vassiliou’s works have been exhibited in galleries throughout Europe, in the United States, and Canada.
Spyros Vassiliou became recognized as a painter of the transformation of the modern urban environment, depicting with an unwavering eye the sprawl of urban development that surrounded his home in Athens, under the walls of the Parthenon. His artistic identity combined monochrome backgrounds and the unorthodox positioning of objects. He paid homage to the Byzantine icon by floating symbols of everyday Greek life on washes of gold or sea-blue color, very much like the religious symbols that float on gold in religious art. With oils and watercolours he painted natural and urban space, portraits, still-life, and scenes of daily living, combining selective elements of cubism and impressionism. A member of an important community of Greek artists in the mid-20th century, Vassiliou was known as one of the first Greek pop-art painters.
Do NOT miss the “Little Hidden Gems in Athens” Tours
Old friends, customers and people that we’ve met on our tours only once are all sending us mails and messages, calling us, asking how we are coping, worried about us, wishing for the best of us and our ‘beautiful country’, expressing their concern.
To all of them we want to send our gratitude and love, our thanks and hopes that all is going to get better in the future, and tell them that Greece is not less beautiful, less safe, or less friendly because of all that awful situation.
We are expecting them all here, to walk and talk, laugh and cry, eat and drink, and be grateful for the true friends we have all over the world.
Saying goodbye leaves a bitter taste in your mouth !
We always use the hashtag #thebestjobintheworld (the best job in the world) to express how happy we are with our job!
What we don’t say is how difficult it is to part with people with whom you share so much!
You meet them at the LOOK AND SEE, before they make up their minds to move here, you see them loosen up and relax, as they get into the greek way of life, you spend time and holidays and tours and meals and loooooong discussions…..and so much more with them….
And then, one day you part with them! And they leave holes in your life.
We always hope that they will come back – and a lot of them do!
Some French students of mine told me their motto, which they borrowed from a Greek writer, they couldn’t remember his name:
Μένω στο Παρίσι, αλλά ζω στην Ελλάδα ! ( I stay in Paris, but I live in Greece)
Following our exceptional visit to Nemea in October, where Pr. Miller, except for the tour he gave us, spoke to us in depth about his dream concerning the revival of the Nemean Games, we would like to inform you that if you want to be part of history and participate in the Nemean Games 2016, here is what you have to do:
If you would like to participate in the next (6th) Nemean Games, and in a revival of the Olympic Spirit, you must register before May 1, 2016. There are no registration fees.
ATTENTION! The 7.5 kilometers race “In the Footsteps of Herakles” will take palce ONLY on Saturday, June 11, 2016. Please, whether you register directly electronically or send your registration form to us, do not omit to fill in every space. Please also write your name and surname with lower case letters (e.g. John Green, not JOHN GREEN) and if you write in Greek characters, don’t forget to use accent marks.
Sixth Nemead, June 10-12, 2016 (tentative schedule)
Friday, June 10, 6:30 p.m.
at Temple of Nemean Zeus:
Sacred Truce (Ekecheria) Crowns Nemea
Jelena Jovanovic Bakopoulou sings “Ode to Nemea”
Torch is lighted at the Altar of Zeus, and Truce and Nemea carry the torch in procession toward the stadium
Armed ancient troops “Leonidas” lay down weapons as the torch passes
at the Ancient Stadium:
The torch enters
Nemea Municipal Philharmonic and the New Choir of Nemea perform “You the Flame” and selections from “Ode to Nemea”
The stadium altar is lighted by Nemea with the torch
The start of the Sixth Nemead is inaugurated by H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos
8:30 p.m. at the Main Square in front of the City Hall of Nemea:
Performance of “Greece! The Musical” by students from the Primary School “Olga Milosevic” of Smederevska Palanka, Serbia
Saturday, June 11, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Footraces in the stadium in groups of twelve organized by age and gender
4:30 p.m. to Ancient Kleonai: the 7.5 km “Footsteps of Herakles” race
7: 30 p.m. In the stadium: Closing ceremonies
Concert by local choral groups
Entrance of Priestesses and Judges (Ambassadors)
Award of the official Sixth Nemead pin to all participants
Entrance of victors and award of crowns of wild celery
Prayer to Earth
Extinguishing the Flame
9:30 p.m. reception for the participants
Sunday, June 12
10:30 a.m. in the stadium: exhibition of the ancient Pankration
1 p.m. in the city hall of Nemea: presentation of two new Nemean books
7 p.m. in the stadium: performance of the “Nemeada” poem and music of Nemean myth and history
About the rivival of the Nemean Games:
“It is our belief that the modern Olympic Games, despite their obvious success in many respects, have become increasingly removed from the average person. Our goal is the participation, on the sacred ancient earth of Greece, of anyone and everyone, in games that will revive the spirit of the Olympics. We will achieve this by reliving authentic ancient athletic customs in the ancient stadium of Nemea.”
Statement of the Purpose of the Society, December 30, 1994
The Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games is a movement born from nearly 40 years of excavation by the University of California at Berkeley in the panhellenic Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea, Greece, and from the enthusiasm and dedication of local residents of Nemea who feel that they could make an important contribution to today’s world because of their personal ties to Nemea.
It was at Nemea that the ancient Greeks celebrated athletic and religious festivals that were part of the cycle of games at Delphi, Isthmia, and (best known today) Olympia. It was at one of these four sites that, for a brief period each year, wars and hostilities were suspended by a sacred truce, and all Greeks gathered in recognition of their common humanity. This impulse toward peace – albeit limited to a few days each year – was the first in the history of mankind on an organized, regular, and international scale. Thus, the festivals at Nemea, Olympia, Delphi, and Isthmia are the direct ancestors of today’s United Nations and Olympic movement. The ancient stadium discovered at Nemea is, therefore, an important monument in the history of such institutions.
The Olympic movement has become an ever more important and complex international event, and a symbol of the nobler aspirations of our human race. But it has also become increasingly removed from those who are not extraordinarily athletically gifted. The average person, inspired by the ancient lessons of peace and hopeful of participation in the movement finds even the role of spectator difficult to fulfill at the modern Olympics.
The Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games believes that there is scope for the average person to participate in such an international athletic festival where no records will be kept and no medals awarded. Races will be organized by gender and age, and participants will be rewarded only by bare feet sore from contact with the same stones and the same soil where ancient feet ran more than 2,000 years ago.
The Sixth Nemead will take place on June 11, 2016. For more details about the organization and significance of the games, see ANCIENT BASIS; for a living image of the games, see STEP INTO HISTORY; to participate, see RUN.
“LIVIN’ AND LOVIN’ IT IN GREECE” STRONGLY SUPPORTS THE REVIVAL OF THE NEMEAN GAMES