What’s On?

    

Right about now, you have a bush on your veranda that you have been ardently watering daily this summer.  You have watched it grow from its small plastic pot and are now admiring its healthy size and the bit of minute white flowers it is sprouting. Other than carrying a strong, fragrant aroma, is there something more to be done with basil?

Linda Makris, longtime AWOG Member and food historian, gives us the lowdown on Vasiliko.

BASIL: THE ROYAL HERB

By Linda Makris, lmakrisambrosia@gmail.com

Pretty little basil, summer’s potted darling, is best known as the perky star of Italian pizza and pesto sauce.  Like many other innocent-looking starlets, her modern role as a culinary herb belies her mysterious, exotic past. Basil’s stage name is short for Latin ocymum basilicum.  But her origins go back to the ancient Greek okimon baslikon, oki meaning “sharp” (the plant’s pungent scent or its pointy leaves?) and basilikon or royal.  The basil family is related to the tulsi, the holy plant of India, where it is carefully tended and worshipped by women of all castes who believe it wards off demons as well as mosquitoes.

Basil was probably brought to the Near East and Asia Minor from India or Persia by the army of Alexander the Great, which may be why its name changed from “holy” to “basilikon-royal.”  There are several sketchy references in classic Greek literature to okimon being grown in ancient gardens where according to food historian, Andrew Dalby, it attracted and was eaten by slugs.  More likely it was appreciated for its medicinal and vermin-repelling properties, than as a food.  But by the 1st century AD, Dioscorides, Father of Pharmacology, had quite a lot to say about okimon in his famous treatise, On Medical Substances.  Besides recommending basil-leaf poltice for inflammations, bites of “sea dragons” and scorpions, he wrote that it was useful against melancholy as well as gastro-intestinal spasms.  Even today Greeks drink basil tisane to sooth nervous stomachs, relieve migraines, combat depression and failing memory.

One hundred years later, Galen reported that some Greeks ate snails with basil.  And a recipe for dried peas cooked with leek, coriander, cumin, BASIL, dill, and pepper appeared in the Latin cookbook of Apicius’- De Re Coquinaria which was well-known all over the Roman Empire

       

THE ROLE OF BASIL IN GREEK CULTURE AND RELIGION 

The role of basil in the discovery of the True Cross by St. Helen, [mother of Constantine the Great, founder of Constantinople in early 4th C. AD] made it an important symbol in the rites of the Greek Orthodox Church.  The aroma of basil supposedly guided her to the place where the Holy Cross was buried not far from the tomb of Christ. At Epiphany or the Blessing of the Waters every January 6th (commemorating Christ’s baptism) Orthodox priests go about blessing homes, fountains, and fields with sprigs of basil dipped in Holy Water.   On the eve of the Feast of St. John, the Divine (June 24th) basil decorates the traditional “divining pitcher” in which unmarried girls try to see their future. They then place sprigs of basil under their pillows hoping to dream of their future husbands.  

The high Greek esteem for basil is further reflected in popular folk proverbs such as: “Basiliko, even wilted, its aroma retains;”  “Close to the basil plant, the pot is also watered” (alluding to persons who bask in the glory of others’ accomplishments). I particularly like the amusing “I took you for basiliko but you turned out to be nettle!”  

The plot of Antonios Matesi’s neo-Hellenic social drama – O Basilikos (1830), is centered around basil, symbol of the pampered and protected state of Greek women of  early 18th century Zakinthos.  The plot (may be based on The Decameron of Boccaccio) involves the complicated love affair between an aristocratic girl and a young man of the lower class.  But the happy ending of the Greek play unites the lovers unlike the tragic finale of the Decameron story where Lisabetta buries her murdered lover’s head in a pot of basil and waters it with her tears! 

 

      

BASIL IN MODERN GREEK CUISINE

Taking into account demons, scorpions, worms, love, religious and social mores, it is not surprising that basil was seldom if ever used in traditional Greek cuisine.  It has only been in the last few years that young Athenian chefs and food writers began using it as an ingredient. Still prized for its beauty as an ornamental plant, Greeks often offer a sprig of basil as a token of welcome. Pots of basil strategically placed in village kitchens, tavernas, butcher shops, and fishmongers are meant to keep flies away.  The dried herb is available at the supermarket but freshly cut basil wilts rapidly in the summer heat which is why you won’t find it at the laiki.  So why not buy a little pot for your veranda or window sill and snip off fresh sprigs of basil as needed.

An egg dish that often turns up as omeletta or fritatta (foreign names) on Greek menus, is still known in the islands by its Byzantine name, sfoungato (roughly, “spongy”).  It is rather like a Spanish omelet.

 

SFOUNGATO – GREEK COUNTRY OMELET

         

          4 tablespoons olive oil

          4 tablespoons finely chopped onion

          4 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper

          1 small zucchini, grated, salted, and drained

          1 cup ripe tomato pulp (grated from 3-4 ripe tomatoes)

          4-5 large eggs, lightly beaten

          ½ cup crumbled feta (optional)

          1 teaspoon dried oregano

          2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil or

    1 teaspoon dried

              salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

In a large 10-12-inch (25-cm) non-stick skillet fitted with a flat lid (or use a  plate or a second pan the same size).  Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on high heat and sauté the onions, green pepper, and zucchini until wilted.  Grate 3-4 ripe tomatoes on a coarse grater, retain juice and pulp, discard skins.  Stir tomatoes into the onion mixture and simmer until the oil separates from the sauce.  Meanwhile, beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl.  Remove sauce from the heat, stir in a pinch of salt and pepper, and the herbs.  Cool slightly and slowly stir into the eggs. 

 

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat and add the egg-tomato mixture quickly, tipping skillet in a circular motion to evenly distribute.  Sprinkle feta on top, cover and cook until eggs are set and bottom is lightly browned.  Now comes the tricky part.  Cover skillet with lid and carefully flip the sfoungato upside down onto it.  Immediately slide back into the skillet, browned side up.  Continue cooking until done.  Slide onto a platter, cut into wedges and serve immediately with more freshly ground black pepper and sprigs of fresh basil.  Serves 4-5 persons for a light supper or summer brunch.

                            

 

          

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Dear Dad

On Sunday, June 18th we celebrate Dads.  According to Wikipedia, this is how paying homage to the male parent came to be.

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic Europe, it has been celebrated on March 19 (St. Joseph’s Day) since the Middle Ages. This celebration was brought by the Spanish and Portuguese to Latin America, where March 19 is often still used for it, though many countries in Europe and the Americas have adopted the U.S. date, which is the third Sunday of June. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May. It complements similar celebrations honoring family members, such as Mother’s Day, Siblings Day and Grandparents Day.

  

A customary day for the celebration of fatherhood in Catholic Europe is known to date back to at least the Middle Ages, and it is observed on 19 March, as the feast day of Saint Joseph, who is referred to as the fatherly Nutritor Domini (“Nourisher of the Lord”) in Catholicism and “the putative father of Jesus” in southern European tradition. This celebration was brought to the Americans by the Spanish and Portuguese, and in Latin America, Father’s Day is still celebrated on 19 March. The Catholic church actively supported the custom of a celebration of fatherhood on St. Joseph’s day from either the last years of the 14th century or from the early 15th century, apparently on the initiative of the Franciscans.

In the Coptic Church, the celebration of fatherhood is also observed on St Joseph’s Day, but the Copts observe this celebration on July 20. This Coptic celebration may date back to the fifth century.

Father’s Day was not celebrated in the US, outside Catholic traditions, until the 20th century. As a civic celebration in the US, it was inaugurated in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day by celebrating fathers and male parenting.

  

After Anna Jarvis‘ successful promotion of Mother’s Day in Grafton, West Virginia, the first observance of a “Father’s Day” was held on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia, in the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church.  Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father, when in December 1907, the Monongah Mining Disaster in nearby Monongah killed 361 men, 250 of them fathers, leaving around a thousand fatherless children. Clayton suggested that her pastor Robert Thomas Webb honor all those fathers.

Clayton’s event did not have repercussions outside Fairmont for several reasons, among them: the city was overwhelmed by other events, the celebration was never promoted outside the town itself and no proclamation of it was made by the city council. Also, two events overshadowed this event: the celebration of Independence Day July 4, 1908, with 12,000 attendants and several shows including a hot air balloon event, which took over the headlines in the following days, and the death of a 16-year-old girl on July 4. The local church and council were overwhelmed and they did not even think of promoting the event, and it was not celebrated again for many years. The original sermon was not reproduced by the press and it was lost. Finally, Clayton was a quiet person, who never promoted the event and never talked to other persons about it.

   

In 1911, Jane Addams proposed that a citywide Father’s Day celebration be held in Chicago, but she was turned down.

In 1912, there was a Father’s Day celebration in Vancouver, Washington, suggested by Methodist pastor J. J. Berringer of the Irvington Methodist Church. They mistakenly believed that they had been the first to celebrate such a day. They followed a 1911 suggestion by the Portland Oregonian.

Harry C. Meek, a member of Lions Clubs International, claimed that he had first come up with the idea for Father’s Day in 1915.  Meek said that the third Sunday in June was chosen because it was his birthday. The Lions Club has named him the “Originator of Father’s Day”.  Meek made many efforts to promote Father’s Day and make it an official holiday.

On June 19, 1910, a Father’s Day celebration was held at the YMCA in Spokane, Washington by Sonora Smart Dodd, her father, the civil war veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. She was also a member of Old Centenary Presbyterian Church (now Knox Presbyterian Church), where she first proposed the idea. After hearing a sermon about Jarvis’ Mother’s Day in 1909 at Central Methodist Episcopal Church, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday to honor them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday in June. Several local clergymen accepted the idea, and on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day, “sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city.

However, in the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930s, Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present for fathers. By 1938, she had the help of the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the holiday’s commercial promotion. Americans resisted the holiday for its first few decades, viewing it as nothing more than an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day, and newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes. However, the said merchants remained resilient and even incorporated these attacks into their advertisements. By the mid-1980s, the Father’s Day Council wrote, “(…) [Father’s Day] has become a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.”

A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak at a Father’s Day celebration and he wanted to make it an officially recognized federal holiday, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized. US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed throughout the entire nation, but he stopped short at issuing a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress. In1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a Father’s Day proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus “[singling] out just one of our two parents.” In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

In the United States, Dodd used the “Fathers’ Day” spelling on her original petition for the holiday,[7] but the spelling “Father’s Day” was already used in 1913 when a bill was introduced to the U.S. Congress as the first attempt to establish the holiday, and it was still spelled the same way when its creator was commended in 2008 by the U.S. Congress.

 

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Burgers and Buddies



AWOG members and friends enjoyed a wonderful burgerlicious luncheon at Athens Hard Rock Cafe in Monastiraki on May 30th.  Along with the memorabilia of rock history, questions of burger history were posed. How well would you score on the Burger Quiz?

 

  1. Where do Hamburgers come from?
  2. What is the name of the first “Burger Joint?”
  3. What is a Salisbury Steak?
  4. Were hamburgers ever served raw?
  5. Is there a hamburger university?
  6. What year was the Big Mac invented?
  7. What day is Burger Day?

Find the answers in the article below!

 History Of Hamburgers

 

  

By Stacey Harris-Papaioannou

Hamburgers were once considered ethnic food, associated with the immigrant community that initially brought them to the USA.

Sure, everyone knows that the hamburger comes from Hamburg and the frankfurter comes from Frankfurt (both are cities in Germany). What could be plainer? But it may interest you to know that while the meats themselves are German in origin, the idea of placing a hamburger or a frankfurter (better known as a hotdog) in a bun was American.

  

The hamburger is one of the world’s most popular foods, with more than 40 billion served up annually in the United States alone. Although the humble beef-patty-on-a-bun is not much more than 100 years old, you can’t tell the story of its origin without outlining a far greater lineage, linking American businessmen, World War II soldiers, German political refugees, medieval traders and Neolithic farmers.

The history of the hamburger is truly a story that has been run through the meat grinder. Some sources say it began with the Mongols, who stashed raw beef under their saddles as they waged their campaign to conquer the known world. After time spent sandwiched between the asses of man and beast, the beef became tender enough to eat raw—certainly a boon to swift-moving riders not keen to dismount.

It is said, then, that the Mongols, under Kublai Khan later brought it to Russia, which turned it into the dish we know as steak tartare.

Several years later, as global trade picked up, seafarers brought this idea back to the port city of Hamburg, Germany, where the Deutschvolk decided to mold it into a steak shape and add heat to the equation, making something that, outside of Hamburg, was referred to as “Hamburg steak.”

In 1848, when political revolutions shook the 39 states of the German Confederation, spurring an increase in German immigration to the United States. With German people came German food: beer gardens flourished in American cities, while butchers offered a panoply of traditional meat preparations. Because Hamburg was known as an exporter of high-quality beef, restaurants began offering a “Hamburg-style” chopped steak.

In mid-19th-century America, preparations of raw beef that had been chopped, chipped, ground or scraped were a common prescription for digestive issues. After a New York doctor, James H. Salisbury, suggested in 1867 that cooked beef patties might be just as healthy, cooks and physicians alike quickly adopted the “Salisbury Steak”. Around the same time, the first popular meat grinders for home use became widely available (Salisbury endorsed one called the American Chopper) setting the stage for an explosion of readily available ground beef.

The hamburger seems to have made its jump from plate to bun in the last decades of the 19th century, though the site of this transformation is highly contested. Lunch wagons, fair stands and roadside restaurants in Wisconsin, Connecticut, Ohio, New York and Texas have all been put forward as possible sites of the hamburger’s birth. Whatever its genesis, the burger-on-a-bun found its first wide audience at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, which also introduced millions of Americans to new foods ranging from waffle ice cream cones and cotton candy to peanut butter and iced tea.

Two years later, though, disaster struck in the form of Upton Sinclair’s journalistic novel The Jungle, which detailed the unsavory side of the American meatpacking industry. Industrial ground beef was easy to adulterate with fillers, preservatives and meat scraps, and the hamburger became a prime suspect.

There are currently three major claims staked on the confusing and contradictory map of American hamburger history.

Louis’ Lunch:

This New Haven, Connecticut, burger joint claims to have invented our favorite lunchtime (and dinnertime) meal in 1900. From its website: “One day in the year 1900 a man dashed into a small New Haven luncheonette and asked for a quick meal that he could eat on the run. Louis Lassen, the establishment’s owner, hurriedly sandwiched a broiled beef patty between two slices of bread and sen the customer on his way, so the story goes, with America’s first hamburger.”

“Hamburger Charlie” Nagreen:

It’s said that he started selling meatballs at the age of 15 at the summer fair in Seymour, Wisconsin. But, homeofthehamburger.org says, “Charlie was a resourceful young man with an outgoing personality. After not experiencing much success selling the meatballs, he had an idea and located some bread. He realized people could take this meal with them if he simply smashed the meat together between two pieces of bread. He called it a “hamburger” and yes, in 1885 the burger was born at the fair in Seymour, Wisconsin.”

Menches Brothers:

The brothers’ descendants, who now operate a small chain in Ohio called, not surprisingly, Menches Bros. claim that their great-grandfather and his brother (Charles and Frank, respectively) invented the dish at an 1885 fair in Hamburg, New York. The brothers originally sold sausages but ran out and were forced to use ground beef, which at the time was considered declassé. John Menches, in a Businessweek story, says, “Faced with nothing to sell at all, they fried [the ground beef] up, but it was too bland. My grandfather decided to put coffee, brown sugar, and some other household ingredients in it and cooked up the sandwich. My great-uncle Frank served the first sandwich, a gentleman tasted it and said, ‘What do you call it?’ Uncle Frank didn’t really know what to call it, so he looked up and saw the banner for the Hamburg fair and said, ‘This is the hamburger.’ ”

The hamburger might have remained on the seamier margins of American cuisine were it not for the vision of Edgar “Billy” Ingram and Walter Anderson, who opened their first White Castle restaurant in Kansas in 1921. Sheathed inside and out in gleaming porcelain and stainless steel, White Castle countered hamburger meat’s low reputation by becoming bastions of cleanliness, health and hygiene (Ingram even commissioned a medical school study to show the health benefits of hamburgers). His system, which included on-premise meat grinding, worked well. the chain “is one of the most important hamburger restaurants in America,” and its founding in the 1920s kicks off the most extraordinary phase in the history of the hamburger because of safety and consistency.

Anderson came up with the idea of using higher quality meat at his Wichita burger stand, but partner Ingram had the idea that would enable White Castle’s expansion—its name, which broadcast purity (“White”) and security (“Castle”) to wary potential customers, who “wanted to see a place that was staffed by young men with clean shirts on and white paper caps.  With its clean-cut vibe and iconic design (modeled after the Chicago water tower), White Castle began to attract customers from outside the working class. Its subsequent expansion, however, was also enabled by consistency, symbolized by what may be the restaurant’s most enduring contribution to the hamburger: the bun, which transformed the burger from a subspecies of sandwich to a dish in its own right.  Anderson and Ingram’s baker “made the exact same bun every single time,” giving White Castle a uniform and scalable product several decades before the golden age of fast food.   White Castle was the inspiration for other national hamburger chains founded in the boom years after World War II: McDonald’s and In-N-Out Burger (both founded in 1948), Burger King (1954) and Wendy’s (1969).

Led by McDonald’s (and helped by the introduction abroad of U.S. hamburger culture by millions of members of the American armed services during World War II), the hamburger—and American-style franchised fast food—soon spread globally.

McDonald’s History

In 1937, Patrick McDonald and his two sons Richard and Maurice inaugurated the simple restaurant “Airdrome” on Huntington Drive (Route 66) near the airport in the American city of Monrovia, California. The success of its sales eventually led to the May 15, 1940, opening of a restaurant named McDonald’s along U.S. Route 66 in San Bernardino, California. After analyzing their sales, the brothers discovered that, to their surprise, 80% of their revenue was coming from selling hamburgers. The menu initially featured 25 different dishes, the majority of which were barbecued. Through their new restaurant, the McDonald brothers introduced the notion of fast food to parts of the Western United States by 1948. From the beginning, McDonald’s focused on making hot dogs and hamburgers as efficiently and quickly as possible. During the 1940s, simple and formative concepts took root at McDonald’s, including the preparation and service of burgers in just one minute and the ability for customers to eat in their own cars in a drive-in style. All the while, the restaurant was trying to further develop a hamburger that was inexpensive enough to be within the economic reach of most Americans. By the 1950s, the concept of drive-in style service had become firmly established and hamburgers and cars had become closely connected in the minds of many Americans. It was now not only possible for a customer to purchase a hamburger without getting out of a car, and a customer also no longer needed to wait to be served. The McDonald brothers built upon the achievements of their original San Bernardino restaurant when in 1953 they began franchising their now famous chain restaurants, starting in Phoenix, Arizona and Downey, California (the latter of which is still in operation). Later, Ray Kroc opened one in the northwest Chicago suburb of Des Plaines, Illinois on April 15, 1955, which has now been converted into the McDonald’s Museum. It is noteworthy that the original McDonald’s mascot was a hamburger faced cook called “Speedee” that would serve as the iconographic identity of the company until being replaced by the clown Ronald McDonald in 1963.

The McDonald brothers intensively studied the existing kitchen protocol of their restaurants in an effort to improve them. They looked at different options that could increase the speed of cooking hamburgers, designing and patenting special grills that had a higher output, made their cutlery and other kitchen utensils disposable, and introduced dishwashers that reduced the costs of water, soap, and labor. The brothers also created a detailed system for operating each kitchen throughout the franchise in a similar and largely standardized manner, as well as recruiting adolescents as employees in the kitchens.

The company began to expand at a much faster rate when 52-year-old ice cream machinery salesman Ray Kroc took over as its chief executive. Kroc was the initiator of both McDonald’s expansion across the United States and the definitive standardization of its burgers. He was not alone, however, as some of his co-workers were also very productive and innovative. McDonald’s executive and food scientist Herb Peterson invented the McMuffin in 1972 and also the now famous greeting, “May I have your order, please?”. In another key development, Jim Delligatti of the Pittsburgh franchise invented the Big Mac in 1967. The McDonald’s successful expansion was mainly due to its use of the franchise system, an innovation borrowed from a sewing machine manufacturer, the Singer Corporation. Singer had developed it during the late 19th century, and it was so successful that it was soon adopted by its competitors. Nowadays, McDonald’s even has its own university for training its staff: Hamburger University, located in Oak Brook, Illinois. Graduates receive a degree entitled “bachelor of hamburgerology with a minor in French fries”. As McDonald’s expanded into other countries, it encountered more opposition and general difficulties, as was the case in 1996 when it opened a restaurant in New Delhi amid outcry from Indian leaders. In 1995, the country with the most McDonald’s restaurants (aside from the United States) was Japan, followed by Canada and Germany, while the company itself had restaurants in more than 100 countries. Throughout its history, the company has become a symbol of globalization and Western culture, sometimes resulting in it being the subject of anger and protests in various parts of the world.

 

Athens Burger Fest

For the second year running Athens Burger Fest ran over the month of May at various Athens venues as well as on May 19, 20 and 21 celebrating the beef patty between a bun and all its potential possibilities. Burger Day is officially celebrated on May 28th! 

  

 

 


 

Blossoms to Bite; Blossoms to Brew

   

  

By Linda Makris

lmakrisambrosia@gmail.com

 

EDIBLE FLOWERS in celebration of May Day

 

Welcome May, Golden May

Decorated with flowers, she comes again

They sing the May on the 1st of May.”

 

So goes the “Song of the Maides” (May Men) which used to be sung in Makrynitsa, Pelion the first of May.  And indeed, it’s everyone’s favorite month, there being nothing quite like May in Greece.  The weather is warm and pleasant, the air fragrant with the scent of chamomile, primrose and thyme.  The rough edges of the unrelenting Greek landscape are tempered with a wash of color.  A gay carpet of yellow daisies, blood-red poppies and purple mallows is spread underfoot by unseen wood nymphs and satyrs, an invitation to take part in their Rite of Spring. 

             

On Protomaya – the first of May, residents of the cities rush into the countryside “na piasoun to Mai” or “catch the May”, as the Greek vernacular translates.  Wildflowers are gathered to fashion wreaths which are hung on balconies, doors and automobile antennas.  May Day, the official European Labor Day, is celebrated tomorrow with political speeches and gatherings of workers unions and organizations, but most people spend the day relaxing and picnicking with their families.  In the rural areas of Greece where livelihoods depend on agriculture, wreaths are made from green branches of olive, pomegranate, orange and lemon blossoms, sheaves of wheat and fruits, all symbolizing the rebirth of Mother Earth, the ancient promise of renewal fulfilled once again.

              

The month of May or “Mai” is named for Maia, the daughter of Atlas and mother of Hermes (Mercury), born of her union with the great god, Zeus.   And while May is for most people a happy month, for others it is filled with superstition for the word “mayia” also means sorcery and magic spells are believed to be particularly effective at this time.  Bethrothed couples used to refuse to marry during May because they believed that only kings and donkeys marry then. Activities such as cutting cloth, lending household goods, salt and flour, transplanting flowers, and travelling are still seen as unlucky activities in May.   Bad luck is believed to be in store for everyone when May 1st falls on Saturday.  The Evil Eye can be warded off by including garlic in your May Day wreath while you should be sure to include thistle to keep enemies at bay, not a bad idea this year given recent developments in the Turkey and the Middle East. 

  

Although the exact origins of these beliefs are clouded by the mists of time, they are ascribed to the fact that everyday activities in ancient Greece were forbidden from late Spring to mid-summer when preparations for the great religious festivals were being made.  It was believed that anyone engaging in mundane chores instead of the ritual cleaning of the temples was subject to the holy wrath of the deities.  Even after the Christian era, these old pagan taboos remained ingrained in the Greek psyche as superstition and were handed down over the centuries through Greek folklore.

            

Taking our minds off this unpleasant aspect of the beautiful month of May, let us turn our attention to edible flowers.  After enjoying artichokes all spring, May is the month that tiny daisy-like chamomile flowers are collected, dried and stored for making tisanes to treat a variety of afflictions from stomach aches to inflammations. When capers come into flower on dry sandy ground this month, the buds are collected before they completely open and pickled in brine. This month and all during summer “kolokithakia” as the Greek call all green squash, zucchini and courgettes. Are available in the markets with their yellow-orange blossoms still attached.  These blooms are delicate and wilt quickly so many supermarkets and green grocers remove them and just give them away.  They have an exquisite flavor and can be dipped in a simple fritter batter and fried in oil or stuffed with rice and braised as a kind of “dolmas.”

             

The following recipe is an easy “meze with which  to “catch and eat the May” if you can get your hands on large fresh blooms which in Greek are “koloythokorfades.”  You are in luck if you have a friend with a garden and he doesn’t spray his plants.  He may even let you pick some of the large male flowers which don’t produce any squash and are ideal for stuffing.   These blooms should be gathered in the early morning.  Check for ants and bugs (which you should remove) then rinse briefly in cold water with a little vinegar added, being careful not to soak them as they tend to get soggy.  The laiki and roadside stands are good sources for “kolokythokorfades” to make this recipe:        

 

           

 

 

KOLOKYTHOKORFADES       CHEESE-STUFFED ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS

 

 

Batter:  1 ½ – 2 cups all purpose flour

            3 tablespoons olive oil

            2 cups beer

            1 teaspoon soda

            1 teaspoon lemon juice

            1 teaspoon each salt and pepper

 

15-20 large fresh zucchini blossoms

(1 cup) crumbled Greek feta cheese

(1 cup) shredded semi-hard cheese (kefalograviera or kaseri)

   or 2 cups of any mix of soft and semi-hard cheeses

¼ cup kefalotiri or parmesan

1 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped mint or dill

1 teaspoon  pepper

Plain flour for dusting

olive or corn oil for frying

Lemon juice

 

Combine and stir the ingredients for the batter until just mixed.  Allow to rest for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, remove stamens, bugs, etc. from the blooms.  Rinse briefly in vinegar water, shake off excess water, and pat dry with paper towels.  Combine the cheeses and toss with the parsley, mint or dill, and pepper.  Loosely stuff the blooms, twisting the ends to close them over the filling.  Heat oil in a deep frying pan.  Roll stuffed flowers first in flour; then dip in batter allowing excess to run off.   Fry in hot oil until crisp; turn with two forks so they don’t brown too quickly.  Remove with slotted spoon onto a platter lined with absorbent paper towels.  Serve hot sprinkled with lemon juice.  Serves 4-6 persons.

           

 


 

The moveable feast … The ever changing date of Easter.

CALCULATING PASCHA

By Linda Makris

lmakrisambrosia@gmail.com

Easter is a moveable feast: why is it dynamic?

                Easter 2017 is history.  Ultimately we turn our thoughts to next year.  When will we celebrate? And why is it that the Western and Orthodox Easters coincided this year but next year they will be celebrated on April 1st and April 8th respectively?

  Why is it we don’t all have Easter together, like Christmas?  The difference exists because the Fathers of the Orthodox Church still use the Julian or “Old Roman Calendar” to calculate Easter while the Western (Catholic/Protestant) churches follow the “New” Gregorian calendar.  The history of these two calendars is as interesting as it is complicated.

  

                Ever since the dawn of history, ancient men kept track of periods of time based on the movements of the moon and the sun so as to know when to plant and harvest the crops and hold the ritual-feasts to propitiate the gods.  The ancient Romans divided their 355-day calendar into a 20-month year which began after the winter solstice (December 21st).  But since it takes the earth 365 days and about 6 hours to complete its journey around the sun, the Romans had to make many and varied adjustments to keep things on track.  Even then there were problems.  When Julius Caesar conquered Egypt (at the time the center of the Empire of the Ptolemies, a family of Greek Macedonians whose last queen, Cleopatra, captured the heart of Caesar), he learned that these Hellenized Egyptians – or rather Egyptianized Hellenes – had a workable calendar of 365 days that coincided perfectly with the seasons.

                In 46BC, Julius Caesar invited Greek mathematician/philosopher, Sosigenes, to combine the Egyptian and Roman calendars.  He added two months – January and February – to the Roman 10-month calendar and the Julian calendar came to rule the works and days of Europe for 16 centuries.  But alas, not even this calendar was perfect and things once again fell apart.  In 1582 Pope Gregory approved further adjustments and a New Gregorian calendar was gradually adopted by other countries over the next 300 years.  Russia and Greece, two of the last hold-outs, didn’t accept it until 1917 and 1923 respectively.  There are still people who insist on following the Old Calendar.  Further complicating the slight differences between the two calendars is the need to harmonize the lunar and solar calendars used to calculate Easter and other religious holidays.  This is done by the use of epacts (literally added days).  These details – vigorously debated over the centuries – are too complicated for our purposes. (Wikipedia has a full explanation)  Simply put, Orthodox Easter is always celebrated on the First Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox (March 21st).

 

                Now, we know (more or less) why Eastern Orthodox Easter doesn’t always coincide with the Western Easter.  The two Easters recently fell together in 2010 and 2011; this occurs in the current century a total of 31 times.  Other times Orthodox Easter falls one, four or even five weeks after Western Easter as it does this year.  But don’t fret; we’ll be together again next year.

                The Greek Orthodox Church follows this system ONLY for Easter while other Greek Orthodox religious feasts like Christmas and Epiphany are celebrated with the West.  The world Council of Churches has attempted to reconcile everybody’s Easter, but to no avail.  The only place in Europe where Catholics celebrate their Easter with the Orthodox is on our very own island of Syros.

  


 

 

EASTER TRADITION: 

EASTER TRADITION: Greeks do not have the monopoly on UNUSUAL Easter Traditions           

By Jane R. Bizos

As Easter approaches, the heavy history of unique religious and cultural tradition is evident everywhere you look in Greece.  Red eggs, lambs or goats on a spit, firecrackers, a midnight feast, a funeral parade certainly stray far from the Easter egg hunts, chocolate bunnies and pastel colors we associate with the holiday in the United States. And as strange as the Greek traditions may seem, there are also other cultures that have unusual rites associated with Easter.

        

 

The Easter WHIP

In the Czech Republic, it is customary for men to get a special Easter whip that they then use to swat the women they fancy most.  In return for getting swatted, the women then give the man a decorated egg or a handful of money as thanks for getting hit by them. If the men are old enough, they can also receive a shot of whiskey. It is insulting if you don’t get whipped, since it means nobody likes you enough to do it. It’s kind of like not getting any cards on Valentine’s Day, only somehow less painful.  Of course, the now freshly-whipped women can’t let the guys have all the fun/abuse. The morning after they’re whipped, the women of the Czech Republic will go out and dump ice cold water on the men that they fancy. Again, this is all in good fun and the day usually ends with everybody soaking wet and a bit tipsy.

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

In Bermuda as a way to symbolize Christ rising from his grave and ascending to Heaven, they fly kites. But not just any kites. These are special Easter kites that can take weeks for the people to design and create. Once the big day is upon them, the kites are flown high into the sky to symbolize the Ascension. At the end of the day, awards are handed out for the best-made kites in a multitude of different categories.

    

Easter Murder Mystery Massacre

In Norway, it is Easter tradition to sit down with your family and read or watch murder mysteries together, so you can all try to figure out who the killer was together as a family. It has become such a big thing that many large companies actually go out of their way to prepare for the Easter massacre that the country’s citizens all hope for.  Most major television stations in Norway actually change their schedules so that they only show murder mysteries on Easter. Publishing companies will seek out novels about murder mysteries and actually postpone their release just so they can have them ready for Easter. Milk companies even have special cartons made so people can read mini murder mysteries off of their milk carton labels in the week leading up to Easter.

Easter Witches, Warlocks and Willows

Denmark’s Easter tradition involves having children dressing up as witches and warlocks while going door to door for candy– the kids are also expected to give the people something in return. They’re required to give each house they visit a decorated willow branch, as thanks for the chocolate gifts they’ve received. These willow branches are believed to bless the owner’s house.

Silence de Samedi

In France, Holy Saturday is a special day called Silent Saturday. On the days leading up to Easter, the churches in France will stop ringing their bells as a sign of remembrance to the passing of Jesus. The explanation to children is that the bells have stopped ringing because they have actually come out of their towers to fly to Rome to see the Pope. When the bells return to France, they drop colored eggs and bundles of candy for all of the children to enjoy.

   

Pot throwing, pan banging

And back in Greece, the celebration of Easter in Corfu is part of a unique experience and part of an extensive calendar of religious and cultural activities different from anywhere else in Greece.  Easter Saturday morning at 11 am is the time the Pot Throwing starts –  this is to mark the First Resurrection. The Pot Throwing tradition dates back to the Venetians who used to throw all their old and useless objects and pots out of their windows on January 1st, just as we celebrate New Year’s Eve by opening the doors and windows to let the old year out and the new year in, and the banging pans, fireworks, sounding of horns and sirens. This tradition is now carried on by local Corfiot people all over the island, from Corfu town and surrounding villages.

Fun Facts for Easter:

    

  1. Easter has been named after Eastre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess. The symbols of the goddess were the hare and the egg.
  2. From ancient times, egg has been regarded as a symbol of rebirth in most of the cultures. Like Passover which is dependent on the phases of the moon and has different dates each year, Easter is also a movable feast.
  1. The first Easter basket was given the appearance of a bird’s nest.
  1. Chocolate eggs were made for the first time in Europe, in the 19th century. 
  1. 76% people bite off the chocolate bunny ears first, while 5% bite the feet first and 4% eat the tail first.
  1. The custom of giving eggs at Easter dates back to the time of the Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks and Romans.
  1. According to The Guinness Book of World Records, the largest Easter egg made was just over 25-ft high and was made of chocolate and marshmallow. Weighing at 8,968 lbs., the egg was supported by an internal steel frame. 
  1.                 Eggs, bonfires, candles, lilies, the crucifix, a palm leaf, bunnies, and lambs are the most popular symbols of Easter.
  1. Egyptians were initially the ones who exchanged eggs to symbolize the resurrection of Christ. It was later that the tradition was passed down to other Christians.
  1. For Americans, Easter is the second most important candy-eating occasion of the year, after Halloween.

 

 

A Day of Jest,

A Day of Farse,

A Day of Fun,

April One

  

 

By Jane R. Bizos

 

It’s arrived –  that one day each year when calculated and well-planned practical jokes are both acceptable and applauded: April Fools’ Day. History suggests that people have been playing practical jokes on each other for hundreds of years, but how the holiday and the spirit behind it became official remains a bit of a mystery. Here are the most popular theories about how April Fools’ Day came to be and why we celebrate it today.

 

The origins of the day of jest

April Fools’ Day began in the year 1582, according to most April Fool’s Day historians, when Pope Gregory XIII moved the start of the new year from the end of March to the beginning of January. The change was made public but not everyone was informed.  The uninformed continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1st  were laughed at. “Because they were seen as foolish, they were called April Fools,” medieval historian Ginger Smoak has explained, according to the Huffington Post.

 

Another myth is based on the same idea but suggests the change in the New Year happened at a slightly different time and place. It attributes the calendar change to France in 1564 — rather than to the pope — and when people celebrated the wrong New Year, others would paste paper fish on their backs, which explains why in France, the day is known as April Fish Day. The French school children still tape a picture of a fish on the back of their classmates as pranks.

Ancient Romans called April Fool’s Day Hilaria, the culmination of the Festival of the Goddess Cybele – the “Great Mother” – and her consort, Attis, on March 25, whose four feast days started on the spring equinox. As with many ancient agricultural festivals honoring a dying and resurrected god or goddess, Hilaria celebrated the resurrection of Attis, Cybele’s consort. Two days of mourning were followed by dancing, feasting and masquerading. It’s likely that one of the origins for the hijinks of April Fool’s Day grew out of the final day of the festivities of Hilaria, culminating in a day of general revelry and the wearing of disguises.

 

In Greece, the Goddess Cybele was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her Minoan  equivalent Rhea, and the Harvest-Mother goddess Demeter. Some city-states, notably Athens, evoked her as a protector, but her most celebrated Greek rites and processions show her as an essentially foreign, exotic mystery-goddess who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot to the accompaniment of wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following.  History once again has proven that when it comes to celebrating, we were always one of the first!

 

April Fools Hoaxes

 

The BBC’s successful attempt to trick their viewers over five decades ago which took place in 1957 on the network’s show “Panorama,” reportedly fooled viewers by airing a segment on a false, burgeoning spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. According to the site’s report, the prank resulted in hundreds of inquiries as to how they could grow their own spaghetti trees.

 

On the April Fool’s Day of 1996, six eminent newspapers of the United States – Washington Post, New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune, published a full-page advertisement declaring that the Liberty Bell had been purchased by the fast food chain Taco Bell. This announcement yielded a tremendous response because the federal government did not own the Liberty Well. The ownership of Liberty Well belongs to the City of Philadelphia. Later, Taco Bell issued a press release, confessing the entire matter as a hoax and as “The best joke of the day.”

 

In 1980 the BBC reported that Big Ben, in order to keep up with the times, was going to be given a digital readout. The announcement shocked listeners, who protested the change. The BBC Japanese service also announced the clock hands would be sold to the first four listeners to contact them. One Japanese seaman in the mid-Atlantic immediately radioed in a bid.

 

Burger King published a full-page advertisement in USA Today in 1998. The advert announced a new item on their menu: the Left-Handed Whopper. Especially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans, the new burger included the same ingredients as the original Whopper, but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees. Thousands of customers went into restaurants to request the new sandwich, while many others requested their own ‘right handed’ version.

 

In Sweden, in 1962, there was only one television channel, and it was shown in black and white. The station announced that their “technical expert,” Kjell Stensson, was going to tell people how to view color images on their black-and-white sets. Researchers, he said, had recently discovered that covering your television screen with a pair of tights would cause the light to bend in such a way that it would appear as if the image was in color. All viewers had to do, Stensson said, was to cut open a pair of stockings and tape them over the screen of their television set. Thousands of viewers fell for the hoax. Many say today that they remember their parents (their fathers in particular) rushing through the house trying to find stockings to place over the TV set. Regular color broadcasts began in Sweden on April 1, 1970.

National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” program reported that former-President Richard Nixon had declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. Accompanying the announcement were audio clips of Nixon delivering his candidacy speech and declaring “I never did anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.” Harvard professor Laurence Tribe and Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman then came on the air to offer their analysis of Nixon’s decision and its possible impact on the 1992 presidential race. A clip from Torrie Clarke, press secretary of the Bush-Quayle campaign, was also played in which she said, “We are stunned and think it’s an obvious attempt by Nixon to upstage our foreign policy announcement today.”  Listeners reacted emotionally to the announcement, flooding NPR with calls expressing shock and outrage. Only during the second half of the program did host John Hockenberry reveal that the announcement had been an April Fool’s Day joke. Comedian Rich Little had impersonated Nixon’s voice.

Well, I’m finished with my little history of April Fool’s Day.  I’ll be off now -am packing our bags – since we are planning to go surfboarding, in Hawaii, next week.     Happy April Fool’s Day!!!

 

 

 

 

 

The heroes of war included outstanding females that sacrificed everything for the love of Ellas! An article celebrating a courageous woman from AWOG member Jane R. Bizos. 

Bouboulina

Wife, Mother, Businesswoman, Feminist, Heroine

 

By Jane R. Bizos

Laskarina Pinotsis (Bouboulina) was born in a prison in Constantinople when her mother Skevo Pinotsis went to visit her dying husband Stavianos, jailed for taking part in the failed revolution of  1769-1770. 

        

After his death Skevo and Laskarina returned to the island of Hydra, their homeland. Her mother later married Captain Dimitrios Lazarou-Orlof and the family moved to the neighboring island of Spetses. History records her as a strong and independent child, the unquestioned leader amongst her 8 half-brothers and half-sisters. She grew up amid all the intrigues and planning which preceded the Greek War of Independence, thus the seeds of a revolutionary were both inherited and planted from an early age.

   

Like all Greek girls in those years, Laskarina was expected to marry and produce children. Not lacking in suitors, she married twice, first to Dimitris Yiannouzas and then to Dimitris Bouboulis, from whom she derived the name Bouboulina. Unfortunately, both her husbands, who were captains, were killed during pirate raids. Bouboulina was left with an immense fortune from her two husbands and seven children to support. Showing enormous business acumen she joined with other Spetsiot shipowners and built three ships of her own. Her husband Bouboulis had been awarded Russian citizenship for taking part in the Russo-Turkish wars and when the Ottoman Empire tried to seize her fortune because of Bouboulis’ participation in the wars, she secretly travelled to Constantinopole and presented the documentation to Russian Ambassador, Count Stroganov, a philhellene, that her husband had honorary Russian citizenship, awarded by the Russian government and had been named a captain of the Russian navy.

             

She also managed an interview with the mother of Sultan Mahmud II, Valide who later convinced her son to give Bouboulina dispensation in order to keep her ships and her fortune. In the interim and to insure her safety, Stroganov sent her to the Crimea where she was given an estate by Tsar Alexander I where she stayed for three months.   Her persistence and bravery was what enabled her to save her fortune and ships which included the famous Agamemnon, a huge ship consisting of 18 cannons and the largest Greek ship used in the Greek War of Independence.

     

Soon afterwards Bouboulina became the only female member of a secret organization known as Filiki Etairia, which was spreading the idea of a Greek Revolution against the Ottomans.  Bouboulina used her own money to make five more ships for her country. She also collected men from Spetses to fight with her against the enemies and used her own funds to supply arms and food for the men under her command. On March 13th, 1821, Bouboulina raised the Greek flag onboard her largest ship, Agamemnon, and started a naval blockade against the Turks. She fought till the Fort of Nafplion fell and then  took part in the blockade of Monemvasia, Peloponnese. In the war, she lost her eldest son, Yiannis Yiannouzas. At the siege of Tripoli, the Turkish capital in the Peloponnese, Bouboulina intervened and saved a large part of the female household of the Sultan. After the Turks were defeated, Bouboulina remained in Nafplion where she met with General Theodoros Kolokotronis. Their children Eleni Bouboulis and Panos Kolokotronis married.   After this, Bouboulina gave up her house in Nafplion and returned to the island of Spetses. After Independence, opposing factions erupted into civil war in 1824 and the Greek Government arrested Bouboulina for her connection with the then imprisoned  Kolokotroni; the government also killed Panos Kolokotronis.  Eventually she was exiled back to Spetses without her fortune which she had spent in its entirety in the defense of her county.

 In 1825, Laskarina Bouboulina was killed as the result of a family feud with the Koutsis family.  Her son Giorgos YIannouzas had eloped with the daughter of Christodoulos Koutsis.  He and a band of armed men went to Bouboulina’s house.  An outraged Bouboulina argued with them from her balcony.  Someone from the Koutsis family shot her and hit her in the head and she was killed instantly, a terribly ignominious death for such a national treasure!

   

Bouboulina was almost fifty when she led her armed forces against the Turks. It should also be noted that she was also a fierce defender of Turkish female prisoners at a time when women accounted for very little. Films have been made about her, books written, her image stamped on the last drachma coin and streets named after her. The Bouboulina Museum is a large attraction on the island of Spetses. Almost two hundred years later, her name is synonymous with patriotism and bravery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating St. Patrick: 

The Facts, the Myth, the Folklore

 

   

 

By Jane R. Bizos

 

It’s the season for parades, green beer, shamrocks, and articles talking about why St. Patrick’s day isn’t about all of the above.

First, a few misconceptions about St. Patrick:

Saint Patrick was never canonized by Rome and therefore not really a Saint. He couldn’t have driven the snakes out of Ireland because there were never any snakes there to begin with. He wasn’t the first evangelist to Ireland (Palladius had been sent in 431,  about five years before Patrick went). Patrick isn’t Irish. He’s from what’s now Dumbarton, Scotland (just northwest of Glasgow).

Patrick was born into a religious family but was a professed atheist when at the age of 16 years  in about the year 405, he was captured in a pirate raid and sold as a slave in what was still pagan Ireland. Far from home, he clung to the religion he had ignored as a teenager. But forced to tend his master’s sheep in Ireland, he spent his years of bondage mainly in prayer. He escaped at the suggestion of a dream and returned home as a missionary.

Patrick was in his mid-30s when he returned to Ireland. Intimately familiar with the Irish clan system (his former master, Milchu, had been a chieftain), Patrick’s strategy was to convert chiefs first, who would then convert their clans through their influence. Reportedly, Milchu was one of his earliest converts.

Though he was not solely responsible for converting the island, Patrick was quite successful. He made missionary journeys all over Ireland, and it soon became known as one of Europe’s Christian centers. This, of course, was very important to fifth-century Christians, for whom Ireland was one of the “ends of the earth”

 

 

Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural and religious celebration held on March 17.  Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Community, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and also the heritage and culture of the Irish people. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks.  Christians also attend church services and historically the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day, which encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption. In recent years, there has been criticism of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations for having become too commercialized and for fostering negative stereotypes of the Irish.

  

3 leaf clover

 

Irish Immigration to the US – The Great Famine occurred in 1845. It is sometimes referred to as the Irish Potato Famine. In the period of 1846 to 1850, the population of Ireland dropped by 2 million which represented 25% of the total population. Many young Irish families saw their futures in America and not Ireland. This affected Ireland as those who were most active and who could contribute the most to Ireland, left the country. Thus, the first tidal wave of Irish immigrants landed on the shores of America.  During the famine years one million Irish immigrants emigrated to the United States.  Runners speaking Gaelic were the first to meet them with promises of employment and cheap places to live.  The stories of the Irish immigrants is similar to that of Greek, Italian and other immigrant groups.  They were taken advantage of, most often by their own people, but through resilience and cultural ties managed to overcome and thrive. A sad note is that many historians have tied the demise of the Gaelic language to the emigration caused by the potato famine.

 

St. Patrick Day Traditions

Dying of the Chicago River Green – The Butler and Rowan family clans are responsible for turning the water bright green and they’ve done it for 50 years.  There is a six person crew which shakes a secret recipe powder into the river from a sifter and in order to be a member of the crew you must be related by blood or marriage to either Mike Butler or Tom Rowan.

New York City St. Patrick Parade – The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was hosted in 1762 in NYC.  A green line is painted in the center of Fifth Avenue along the parade route.  Timothy Meagher, Professor of History at Catholic University in Washington, DC says that the parades “are a way of showing our numbers, showing that we are powerful and important.”

Shamrocks – Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Christian Holy Trinity. This may be more myth than fact. However, author Mike Cronin says that “people wore shamrocks on their coats and closed the day by ‘drowning the shamrock’ – placing it in a glass of whiskey before drinking it.

Leprechauns – The first recorded mention of a leprechaun goes back to the 8th century, coming from the word luchorpán, meaning “little body” to describe water spirits. There’s also the Irish fairy Cluricaune, “a cunning spirit who haunts cellars, drinks, smokes and plays tricks,”. Cluricaune was popularized in a 1825 publication called Fairy Legends.

Wearing of the Green – Originally the official color for St. Patrick’s Day was blue.   In later years green began to dominate because Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle.  Today Irish Catholics are known to wear green while Protestants celebrate the holiday wearing orange.  The Irish flag has a stripe of green and a stripe of orange separated by a stripe of white symbolizing peace.

Erin Go Bragh – Gaelic expression which translates to “Ireland Forever”.  While long said in Ireland, the phrase came into wider usage in 1847 when a group of Irish volunteers joined the Mexicans in the Mexican-American war. The soldiers, known as St. Patrick’s Battalion, flew a green banner emblazoned with the phrase “Erin go Bragh.” That emblem became a popular symbol of Irish nationalism, picked up in the late 19th century as a logo of the Irish Unionist Party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Bazaar Committee Meeting

A Christmas Bazaar meeting will follow the Board Meeting on Thursday, March 30th at noon.   All those interested in participating and contributing to the 2017 Christmas Bazaar set for Sunday, November 26th should plan to attend.

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2017 Christmas Bazaar

Our Annual Christmas Bazaar will be held on Sunday, November 26th, 2017 at the Athens War Museum.  

All of the proceeds of this event will go to charities selected by the community services committee.