Have you ever wondered why we fly kites on Clean Monday?

Clean Monday (Kathara Deftera in Greek) is one of the most important and eagerly anticipated Greek celebrations. It marks the end of the playful Carnival season and the commencing of the Great Lent, the 50day fasting period which ends on Orthodox Easter Sunday. Kathara Deftera, a public holiday both in Greece and Cyprus, is celebrated through various local customs and traditions, including the consumption of shellfish and other culinary fasting delights as well as a number of outdoor activities (Koulouma), the most popular of which is making and flying kites.

 

Photo 21-02-2017, 22 14 27

 

Kite flying itself is an ancient tradition, thought to have originated in ancient China. Throughout the ages, the tradition of flying kites was adopted by other cultures, and new shapes and forms emerged to reflect local legends and customs. It has thus been deeply rooted in Orthodox Christian tradition as well, as it symbolises the passing of the human soul to Heaven and God, with people in older times even believing that the higher their kite flew the more possible it would be for their prayers to be heard by God.

The custom of flying kites on Clean Monday is directly linked to the spiritual state of mind of Orthodox Christians: on this day, they start on the path of physical and spiritual purification, through a long fasting period, and rededicate themselves to a more righteous way of living.

 

February 9th – International Greek Language Day

Ever thought you speak Greek but don’t know it?

 

Well, according to one estimate more than 150,000 words of English are derived from Greek words and these are not limited to technical and scientific terms but include more common words as well. Add to that the expressions that derived from ancient Greek culture and then it’s no wonder how the former Prime Minister and acclaimed economist Prof. Xenophon Zolotas wrote two speeches in English consisting mainly of Greek words (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenophon_Zolotas).

Greek language has a long history. It is one of the oldest Indo-European languages and it is spoken with no interruption for more than 40 centuries! It has been very influential in Western Culture and Christianity and it’s the language in which many of the foundational texts in literature, philosophy, science, mathematics, astronomy and logic were written.

On the 9th February we celebrate the wealth and contribution of the Greek language to the world! A language that might be officially spoken by approximately 25 million people worldwide but is found all around us.

We all speak Greek after all!

Why is February so short?

Have you ever wondered why February has less days than the other months?

Well it’s the Romans to blame! After the adoption of the calendar by Ptolemy III, according to which a year of 365 days was valid for three years, followed by one year of 366 days, it was time for the Romans to decide on the length and the names of the individual months.

The first month of the year was March, devoted to the God of War, which had to have 31 days.The second month, devoted to Venus, was named April and after many disputes it was decided to consist of 30 days . The rotation of the 31 days to 30 continued to the months of May and June. Later, when the then sixth month was dedicated to the emperor Augustus (August), it consisted of 31 days to match July, the month dedicated to Julius Caesar.The rotation continued as such up to December; however, because January was dedicated to Janus, the protector of Etruria, it was thought appropriate for it to also have 31 days and so there were only 28 days left for February, the last month of the year.

The fact that this particular month would not have had many days did not displease the Romans at all. Not only was it dedicated to the dead, but during that time they also had to devote themselves to repentance. Even the name of the month, “Februare”, means atonement. In fact, so much did the Romans want February  to end fast, that when there appeared to be a need to add a day every four years, they did not add that extra day at the end of the month but doubled its sixth day (bi sextus), hence the name “bisect year” (also known as leap year).

Celebrating the Three Hierarchs and Greek Letters Day!

The Three Holy Hierarchs (Οι Τρεις Ιεράρχες) of Eastern Christianity are three highly influential bishops of the Christian Church.

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Halcyon days

Halcyon days are those winter days when the weather is unusually good, with intense sunshine and sometimes high temperatures. They usually cover the second half of January, although they may sometimes extend from December 15 to February 15.

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Melomakarona

Melomakarona (pronounced mel-low-ma-KA-row-na) are egg shaped cookies that along with kourabiedes are the most popular traditional Greek desserts prepared primarily during the Christmas holiday season.

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I’m dreaming of a Greek Christmas!

With only a couple of weeks left till Christmas, we are so excited to share with you the delicious kourambiedes recipe as well as some photos from our Christmas baking workshop with the Hellenic Centre. Many thanks to everyone who joined us – it was such a fun experience for all and we can’t wait to do it again!!

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28th of October

The 28th of October signifies an important milestone of Modern Greek history: the refusal of fascist Italy’s referendum and the consequent entrance of Greece into World War II.

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October not Octomber!

 

The answer can be traced back to the Roman diary, which we have borrowed in its own right. Initially, it consisted of only ten months and as January and February were not part of it, the year began in March.

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Excellent GCSE Results!

Once more our students achieved outstanding results in their GCSEs in Modern and Ancient Greek with 100% of all grades at A* (above 92%). We are very proud of their achievements!

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