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Hellenic parade celebrates Greek independence in San Francisco March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Special Features.
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Some celebrants were dressed like heroic Greek freedom fighters from the early 19th century. Others donned the colorful, festive costumes of traditional dancers.

The Hellenic Cultural Parade in downtown San Francisco on Saturday culminated a weeklong celebration of all things Greek, from music to politics, history, philosophy, religion and food.

Led by a contingent of police officers on horseback, the parade drew sparse crowds along Market Street on its way to City Hall, but the revelers’ effusive spirit and cultural icons shone through.

“This is our way to remember and celebrate,” said George Katsoulis, an Oakland resident who carried the Olympic torch in the ancient Greek city of Argos in 2004. “To commemorate Greek independence day in any way is an honor. The music, the dance, the remembrance of our ancestors.” Katsoulis strode up Market Street, holding two symbols of peace, an olive branch in one hand and an unlit Olympic torch from 2004 in the other. Christine Diacou Hay of San Francisco revealed her Greek roots by shouting “Hronia pola!” – or long life, to the torch bearer.

This year’s celebration marked the 187th anniversary of Greek independence, dating to when rebels began their fight for independence after centuries of occupation by the Ottoman Empire.

“It was the beginning in Europe of nations waking up to self-determination, freedom, choice and democracy,” said Metropolitan Gerasimos, the head of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco. Gerasimos, who leads 175,000 Greek Orthodox faithful in seven Western states, wore a traditional black robe similar to those worn by Greek clergy when the church was suppressed by the Ottomans.

Jim Vorrises, Vice President of the United Hellenic Federation of California, said: “Every year we celebrate the same event, remembering the fight of our forefathers to secure independence and freedom of the Greek nation. Those people had faith in God, faith in themselves and destiny.”

This was the 10th annual celebration of its kind in San Francisco, though others said the local tradition of marking Greek independence goes back for decades.

Among the highlights of this year’s celebration was a float bearing a replica of the Acropolis, or Sacred rock, of Athens, with four Greek muses in white gowns, smiling and waving to the crowd. Another float featured a mockup of a wooden boat, variously described as the ship sailed by Ulysses. 

Near the steps of City Hall, hundreds of spectators were serenaded by a vibrant Greek solo. Dancers in ceremonial costumes from the Island of Crete performed before a reviewing stand filled with dignitaries including Xenia Stefanidou, the Consul General of Greece in San Francisco.

“They feel proud of their ethnicity,” said journalist Savas Deligiorgis, who presents a Greek American program on KVTO-AM 1400, a San Francisco radio station, “because they always fight for freedom, democracy and human rights.” Ted Giouzelis of San Leandro, who was born in Sparta and raised in Athens, praised people of Greek ancestry as “hospitable, hardworking and lovers of knowledge.” 

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A solo photo show at the Benaki Museum March 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
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A few years ago, Pavlos Kozalides traveled the region of the Black Sea in order to document the lives of the area’s Greeks. In many ways, it was voyage in search of his own roots. Of Pontic descent himself, he grew up listening to his family talk about their lives in Ordu, Turkey, before the 1923 exchange of populations.

Kozalides visited Ordu as well as other regions of Turkey but also traveled to Georgia, Ukraine and Russia. The photographs he produced, on a commission from the Benaki Museum, are exhibited in “Pavlos Kozalides: Seeking a Lost Homeland”, an exhibition curated by the artist and on display at the main building of the Benaki Museum, while the Museum’s Photographic Archives is the organizer.

Kozalides seeks out those aspects of Greek tradition that still survive in the communities of Greeks living in the Black Sea and draws attention to an important but somewhat neglected part of the Greek diaspora.

Born in Piraeus in 1961, Kozalides moved with his family to Canada when he was 7. He started working as a photographer in the 1980s, upon his permanant return to Greece. He has traveled extensively, photographing different parts of the world. The Benaki exhibition is the first public presentation of his work.

“Pavlos Kozalides: Seeking a Lost Homeland”, Benaki Museum, 1 Koumbari Street, Athens, tel 210 3671000. To April 13.

Related Links > www.benaki.gr

Greek Independence Day Parade in Montreal, Canada March 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Special Features.
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The Hellenic Community of Montreal (HCM), in collaboration with the Greek Orthodox Community of Laval, is organizing their annual March 25th Parade commemorating Greece’s Revolution in 1821 against the Ottoman Empire.

The two hour parade will start at 1 p.m. March 30, 2008. It will run along Jean Talon St., beginning at Hutchinson St. and ending at l’Acadie Blvd. This year’s grand Marshall is Tom Kostopoulos from the Montreal Canadians.

Thousands of Montrealers of Greek heritage as well as Philhellenes are going to be gathered along Jean Talon Street to salute war veterans, community leaders, but most of all Hellenic youth. The Hellenic Community invites the population of Montreal to come and join in the celebration. For any information about the parade or other festivities plan please call (514) 738-2421.

Hellenic Community of Montreal (HCM), 5777 Avenue Wilderton, Montreal, QC H3S 2V7, Tel (514) 738-2421, Fax 514 738 5466, www.hcm-chm.org

Greece celebrates anniversary of 1821 Revolution March 25, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Special Features.
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The 187th anniversary of the 25 March 1821 Greek Revolution, which marked the start of its war of Independence against Ottoman rule and the birth of the modern Greek Nation, was celebrated throughout the country on Tuesday with school parades in every town and district, as well as a grand military and security forces parade in central Athens that was held in the presence of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

Earlier, President Papoulias had also attended a celebratory mass at the Athens Cathedral for the twin holidays of the Independence anniversary and the feast of the Annunciation of Virgin Mary, both celebrated on March 25, that was led by the Bishop of Fanar Agathonikos. Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronynos was unable to lead the mass following an accident that resulted in a broken ankle, for which he was being treated in hospital.

On his arrival at the Cathedral, the President was received by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, Athens Prefect Dimitris Sgouros and Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.

Prior to the start of the parade, President Papoulias deposited a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside Parliament and observed a minute’s silence in honour of the freedom fighters of 1821, after which an mixed honour guard fired a volley of shots and cannons were fired from Lycabettus Hill.

The President then inspected an honour guard and greeted the political, state and military leadership before taking his place on the officials’ stand to watch the parade, alongside the Prime Minister, the Parliament President, and other state officials.

25-03-08_greek_evzones.jpg  The Presidential Guard known as “Evzones” on parade, during the March 25 Independence Day anniversary parade.

The customary annual military parade was led as always by the wounded veterans of war, the 1974 commando troops that fought on Cyprus during the Turkish invasion, and the Greek Red Cross, followed by the units of the Army, Navy and Air Force, Greek Police, Fire Brigade and Coast Guard, while military and fire-fighting aircraft and helicopters flew overhead.

In statements after the end of the parade, President Papoulias said the anniversary was celebrating one of the most sensational moments in Greece’s history, the decision of an unarmed and persecuted nation to rise up against an empire and create the modern Greek state. This same passion had fired Greeks during the Balkans wars and in their resistance to the forces of Fascism in 1940, and would continue to arm the people and the armed forces to repel any attempt against Greece’s territorial integrity, he added.

“I am confident about the future of this nation. Of this people that have so many gifts and are ready to make any sacrifice in order to ensure freedom and national independence,” he stressed.

Prime Minister Karamanlis, on his part, stressed that it was the struggles and sacrifices of heroes known and unknown, from 1821 until the present day, that had allowed Greece to become free, to modernise and develop and to earn its place on the international scene.

A major parade by school children, scouts and ground units of the Armed Forces was held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Margaritis Tzimas representing the government.

The anniversary was also marked by Greek communities living abroad and in Cyprus, where Cyprus President Demetris Christofias congratulated Greece’s leadership and the Greek people during an event at the Greek Embassy in Nicosia, stressing that the Greek war of independence had been “one of the great revolutions of the 19th century”.

Greek Ambassador to Cyprus Dimitris Rallis, on his part, referred to the ongoing Turkish occupation on Cyprus itself, saying that this had to end, and once again reiterated Greece’s steadfast support and assistance to the struggle being given by Greek-Cypriots to achieve this.

In a televised address to Greek-Cypriots, he praised the recent agreement between Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat but stressed that the Turkish side had to demonstrate a constructive attitude so that negotiations for a political solution might resume.

Greeks in Australia marked the anniversary with a mass at the Church of the Annunciation, the oldest Greek Orthodox church in Melbourne, and the laying of wreaths at the Shrine of Remembrance in the city. The President of the U.S. sector of the World Council of Hellenes of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Theodoros Spyropoulos, meanwhile, issued a message that highlighted the anniversary as the supreme symbol of the Greek Nation’s struggle for National independence, as well as a timeless and enduring symbol for the entire world.

Happy National Day Greeks! March 25, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Editorial, Special Features.
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25-03-08_greek_independence.jpg  On 25th March Greece celebrates its National Day, the Independence Day, commonly known as the Greek Revolution (in Greek Ελληνική Επανάσταση, Elliniki Epanastasi).

25-03-08_annunciation_virgin_mary.jpg  The anniversary of Independence Day (25 March 1821) is a National holiday in Greece, which falls on the same day as the religious Orthodox feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary.

On this occasion, we would like to cordially extend our greetings to all the Greeks, in mainland Greece, in Cyprus and the Greek Diaspora all over this planet earth, our to send our sincerest wishes for a Happy National Day as well as a Happy Name Day [to all the Marias, Panagiotas, Evangelies, Evangelos, Panagiotis, just to name but a few, who celebrate their name day on this major Orthodox Christian feast].

Related Links > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_War_of_Independence

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annunciation

On the occasion of Greece’s National Day on March 25 March 23, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology, Greece News, Greek Diaspora, Special Features.
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Message of Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, Theodoros P. Kassimis, to all Greeks residing abroad >

Dear Compatriots,

It is with great pleasure and emotion that I am communicating with you on this historical day [25 March 1821] of National rebirth that brings to our minds so many memories and which is full of meaningful messages to Greeks, all over the world.

187 years ago, our ancestors, deprived of any substantial material means and falling short in number, motivated by the dream of a free homeland, fought against not only a powerful enemy but also against the prevailing status quo, which was dominant in Europe of the 19th century. It was an unequal fight, and seemingly destined to fail; however they won. They won because they believed in what nobody could even conceive, sacrificing their lives in the battlegrounds, unwilling to compromise themselves with the idea of defeat, which would have resulted in the loss of the dream of freedom. They won giving to us a free Greece, which with many efforts, sacrifices and hard work has earned the respect and the appreciation of its partners amongst the Nations.

187 years after, the challenges that our country is facing are different but not less important, consisting in the preservation of its territorial integrity, the protection of its cultural legacy and the defense of its rights. The battles are fought on a daily basis, not on battlegrounds, but in various fora, and as Greeks we are expected to prove that we are worthy of the legacy that our ancestors left us. We should never forget that what they achieved was the result of unity and resolve in the final cause. Let us then proceed as of this day, guided by the very same elements, proving once more to the rest of the world that the greatness of nations is not computed and measured by digits, numbers and material means, but by the heart, the courage and the grit shown whenever circumstances are challenging and demanding. We owe this to our ancestors, and furthermore to our children and ourselves.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all health and prosperity, and I avail myself of this opportunity to extend to you my warmest patriotic greetings.

Theodoros P. Kassimis.

It’s not all Greek to the Australians any more March 21, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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Victoria’s traditional migrant communities are declining as new arrivals from Asia challenge their size and influence. Census data shows Melbourne’s boast as the biggest Greek city outside Greece is under threat as community numbers steadily fall.

The state’s Greek-born population fell by 3000 to 54,324 between 2001 and 2006, the figures reveal. With migration from Greece virtually non-existent, the Greek-born dropped from third biggest community to sixth during the five-year period.

Even when generations born here are taken into account, the decline is apparent. In 2006, 117,876 Victorians said they spoke Greek at home, 4 per cent less than the previous Census.

Rockbank farmer Christos Kartalis, 69, was part of the Mediterranean migration boom of the 1950s and 1960s when hundreds of thousands of Greeks and Italians poured into Australia. Mr Kartalis grows fruit and vegetables and makes wine, a skill he learned from his father in northern Greece. “I’d like to pass this on to my daughter, or to her husband when she gets married,” he said.

Mr Kartalis’s daughter Zoyee said it was important to preserve this knowledge for future generations before it was lost. “Simple things like making good food and wine, that’s part of my Greek culture,” she said. “Culture is really important to me, without it you have no identity.”

At the last Census, 156,000 Victorians claimed Greek ancestry, while 308,000 residents had Italian heritage. Like the Greeks, the Italian-born community is declining, down 8000 to 82,849 between 2001 and 2006. The biggest group, the UK-born, also decreased, but this is expected to turn around by the next Census given a recent surge in British skilled arrivals.

After the Brits, the Italians are still the number two group in Victoria, but Asian arrivals are quickly catching up. By 2006, the number of Vietnamese-born grew to 58,877, while the Chinese-born population rose by more than 50 per cent to 56,560.