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Bless this house February 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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Fr. John Stavropoulos from St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church uses a sprig of holly to splash holy water as he blesses the home of Wilmington mayor Bill and Renee Saffo as part of the Orthodox season of Epiphany

‘Are you ready to clip the green?” Father John Stavropoulos asked the lady of the house. Renee Saffo walked into her backyard in tall black heels to snip a hand-sized branch of holly with a few red berries still attached. When she returned to the house, her husband, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, appeared in the kitchen holding an icon of Mary and Jesus.

“Where do you want this, Father?” he asked the pastor of his church, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. “Right by the door,” the priest replied. The icon sat on a small table next to a huge bowl of water, awaiting the ceremony. Father Stavropoulos dripped a tiny bit of holy water in the bowl. Then, while praying, he dipped a cross and the holly in the water. And in just 15 minutes of holy water slinging and Greek prayers, the Saffos’ new home in Landfall, along with his family and role as Mayor, were blessed.

House-blessing season in the Orthodox Christian Church has kept Father Stavropoulos busy this month, having performed about 60 ceremonies that bring a sense of “grace and protection to a home.” Many Greek Orthodox house blessings happen after January 6, a time of renewal around the Feast of the Theophany (Epiphany), when Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate Jesus’ baptism by John in the River Jordan. But the priest said he will do a house blessing any time a family needs it.

Many religions believe in blessing the home, including Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Neo-Pagans. In the Orthodox church, the ceremony has existed for 2,000 years, Father Stavropoulos said.

Superstition guided the origins of some traditions. In ancient times, before a newlywed couple entered their new home, some fire was taken from the hearth of the bride’s family to light the couple’s new hearth. The fire was passed so Hestia, the Greek goddess of hearth and home, would also protect the young bride and groom.

Renee Saffo wanted her house blessed “because it’s a custom I’ve done all my life, and a tradition for the priest to come to the home and bless it,” she says. Mayor Saffo agreed, saying: “Growing up in the Greek church, it’s something that every year, (the priest) would bestow the blessings of God on our home and family.”

When Father Stavropoulos arrived at the home this past Tuesday, he began by blessing the Saffos’ front door “in remembrance of Moses placing the blood of the Paschal lamb on the doors of the Jews so that no disease, death or destruction pass by this door,” he said, dipping the holly in the water and slinging it against the door in a cross pattern.

“Again we pray for the mercy, life, peace, health, salvation, protection, pardon and remission of the sins of the servants of God, all pious and Orthodox Christians who dwell in this city . . .” Then Renee Saffo led the priest from room to room full of burgundy and gold decor as the mayor followed, carrying the bowl of holy water. At each stop, Father Stavropoulos spritzed the four corners of the room and chanted “Holy art thou, holy God. Holy, mighty. Holy immortal. Have mercy on us.”

As the priest completed the blessing back at the heavy wooden front door, he reminded the Saffos to make sure the holy water was poured on a plant so it, too, could “grow in grace.” Then he touched their heads with the holy water-soaked holly, saying: “May I bless you and your wife with beauty and honor and love . . . and have a prosperous and happy New Year.”


Nudity in ancient Greece February 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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Nudity was a costume used by artists to depict various roles of men

Statue of Apollo with a snake from the Vatican.  Statue of Apollo with a snake from the Vatican. Apollo was the twin brother of Artemis and son of Zeus, known for his musicianship and athleticism. God of prophecy, young men, light, truth and cattle, who taught mankind the art of healing.

Male nudes are the norm in Greek art, even though historians have stated that ancient Greeks kept their clothes on for the most part. New research suggests that art might have been imitating life more closely than previously thought. Nudity was a costume used by artists to depict various roles of men, ranging from heroicism and status to defeat.

“In ancient Greek art, there are many different kinds of nudity that can mean many different things,” said Jeffrey Hurwit, an historian of ancient art at the University of Oregon. “Sometimes they are contradictory.”

Hurwit’s newly published research shows that the Greeks did walk around in the buff in some situations. Men strode about free of their togas in the bedroom and at parties called symposia, where they would eat, drink and carouse. Nudity was also common on the athletic fields and at the Olympic Games. Because there are so many images of Greek athletes, some lay people have assumed the Greeks were in their birthday suits all the time. However, nudity was often risky for the Greeks.

“Greek males, it is generally agreed, did not walk around town naked, they did not ride their horses naked, and they certainly did not go into battle naked,” Hurwit said. “In most public contexts, clothing was not optional, and in combat nakedness was suicidal.”

Warriors and heroes are often, but not always, represented in the nude. Artists demonstrated the physical prowess men used to defeat their enemies. But, as Hurwit said, if you can go into battle naked, you’ve got to be pretty good. However, heroes weren’t the only men disrobed by ancient artists.

Hurwit’s research, published in the January issue of the American Journal of Archaeology, also found examples of defeated, dying and dead naked men. In these cases, nudity was chosen to represent the subjects’ vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, common laborers were also drawn undressed, illustrating their sweat and muscles to show how hard they worked. Gods and people of higher social class were sometimes, but not always, depicted in the buff to demonstrate their place in society. Hurwit’s research of these nuances of Greek art also offers a glimpse into the cultural source of our civilization today.

“We can try to understand ourselves and our conception of what it means to be a hero and to exceed normal expectations,” Hurwit said. “The more we know about other cultures, the deeper we will be able to understand our own culture and ourselves.”

Greek Coke bottler CCHBC invests in new unit February 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Greek Coke bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company has spent 12.5 million euros ($16.27 million) to build a new plant on the Greek island of Crete in a bid to meet the increasing demand of the local market, it said on Thursday.

Greek CCHBC, the world’s second largest bottler of Coca-Cola drinks, said the new plant will be its main production and bottling unit of soft drinks and other local products on Crete and Greece’s southern islands region.

The new 52-thousand square metres plant will have three production lines for soft drinks and one production line for aluminium cans, CCHBC said in the statement.

The bottler, 24 percent owned by Coca-Cola Co., has been restucturing its operations in Greece, Nigeria, Ireland, Croatia and Bulgaria to boost its competiveness. CCHBC has operations in 28 countries in Europe and Africa.

The stock trades at 21.3 times its estimated 2007 earnings, compared with a 16.1 multiple for Coca Cola Enterprises, the world’s largest bottler of Coke drinks, and a 18.7 multiple for Australian-based Coca-Cola Amatil.

SkyScanner launches Greek version February 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Flights.
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European flight search engine SkyScanner has launched Russian, Greek and Czech language versions of the site.

SkyScanner is currently available in English, French, Italian, Polish, German, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.

The company claims that over nine million searches are performed on SkyScanner each month, with 35 per cent originating from outside the UK.

SkyScanner aims to support at least 20 worldwide languages on the site by the end of 2007.

Related Links > http://www.skyscanner.net

St. Sophia Greek Festival starts today February 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in Winter Haven will have its annual Greek Festival today through Sunday.

Held inside and out, the festival features live traditional music and dancing, Greek food and pastries and a boutique of imported gifts and culinary items. Booths will sell religious icons, jewelry, attic treasures and imported Greek handbags.

Dancing lessons are available for those who wish to learn traditional Greek dances.

The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at the church, 1030 Bradbury Road.

The cost is a $2 donation that covers all three days. Children age 12 and younger are admitted free. For more information, call 863-299-4532.

Greece’s Classical Hotels to invest in Bulgaria February 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Classical Hotels, the Greek hotel company that owns Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkans, said it has bought a site in local ski resort Borovets for the construction of a luxury hotel.

This would be the company’s first investment in Bulgaria’s winter tourism industry. The hotel, yet unaffiliated with any international brand, should be ready in 2008.

At the moment, the Greek company is busy renovating the Sofia Sheraton. A new 1,000-seat conference hall should be added by mid 2007.

The Sofia Sheraton slumped to a loss of 2.9 mln levs towards the end of 2006 after posting a profit of 3.3 mln levs a year ago, shows the interim financial report for 2006.
Revenues fell 12% to 16 mln levs while expenses jumped 35% to 16.9 mln levs in 2006.

Greek ancient monuments receive splash of colour February 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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If ancient Greeks could take a walk along the many tourist stalls beneath the ancient Acropolis, they would be amazed to behold the countless marble miniatures of the popular site, all depicted in white. 

Archaeologists said many of the ancient ruins looked completely different approximately 2,500 years ago, when the Parthenon was actually covered in brilliant shades of red, blue and green.

Now, a group of artists have taken the liberty to revive history with an exhibition of 21 coloured replicas of the ancient sculptures called Munich’s Gods in Colour at the National Archaeological Museum. The exhibition, which runs until March 24, was presented for the first time at the Munich Glyptothek in 2004 before travelling to a number of countries for the past two years.

Archaeologists first discovered traces of colour on various sculptures during laser cleaning as part of ongoing restorations to the temple, built in 432 BC. Weathering through the bleaching of the sun, blowing of sand and more modern pollution caused the colours to fade over time.

‘New research methods were developed in order to trace colour remnants on ancient sculptures. This was followed by careful analysis in order to reproduce the initial colours with as much accuracy as possible. When all this was achieved, colour was added to replicas of well-known Greek and Roman sculptures,’ said Museum Director Nikos Kaltsas.

‘It is a well known fact that both ancient Greek sculptures and temples featured colour, yet colour remnants on some works today cannot do justice to their original appearance,’ he added.

A portion of the Parthenon’s most intricate carvings are now housed in the British Museum in London, and Greece has repeatedly demanded that they be returned to the place of their birth.

Experts believe the Elgin Marbles may have been stripped of some of their remaining colour when they first arrived in London in the early 19th century, due to months of scraping with abrasive tools by museum officials convinced that the marbles had originally been pure white.

‘This exhibition confirms, once more, that what we know of the past is never really a given. Archaeological research is constantly developing through the adoption of new methods, whose aim is to get closer, if not reach, the truth,’ Kaltsas added.