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February Newsletter
This Month 
Greek Customs and Traditions in America: Marriage Service (Part E)
Everything you need to know about Chios Mastic...
What's New!!!!
Featured Destination: Delphi
Saint Namedays in February.
February Recipe.
Suggestions & Comments.
Subscription Information.
Shellfish in Phyllo ParcelsFebruary Recipe:
Shellfish in Phyllo Parcels
 Ingredients:
1 lb. shrimp
8 oz. crabmeat, shredded
2 tlbs. tablespoons olive oil
4-5 spring onions with long green leaves
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tlbs. flour
1/4 cup vegetarian cream
2 tlbs. Chopped dill salt, and freshly ground pepper
9 sheets phyllo
1/3 cup olive oil, for brushing
for the sauce
2 tlbs. lemon juice
1/4 olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tlbs. finely chopped green onion
2 tlbs. finely chopped dill
2 tlbs. finely chopped parsley, salt, and freshly ground pepper
Preparation:

Peel and devein the shrimp. Rinse, drain well, and cut into small pieces. Set aside. Clean the onions and remove witted leaves. Cut off the white part and finely chop. Blanch the green leaves in boiling water until soft and pliable. Drain and set aside. Heat the oil in saucepan over medium heat and saute the chopped onions and garlic until wilted. Add the shrimp and stir over the heat until they pink, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and continue stirring for 1 more minute. Stir in the cream and remove from the heat. Add the crabmeat, dill, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Cut the phyllo sheets in half lengthwise. Brush the top half of each piece with oil and fold the bottom half over it. Brush again with oil, place a tablespoon of seafood filling on the center bottom of each piece of phyllo, and roll up. Slightly twist the ends and tie each with one or two blanched onion leaves. Arrange side by side on an oiled baking sheet. Brush rolls with oil and sprinkle with a little water. Bake in a 350
˚F (180˚C) for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a blender container and processing until uniform and thick. Serve the seafood parcels hot accompanied by the herb-sauce.
 
Excerpts from: "Alexiadou Vefa Sunny Mediterranean Cuisine "

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 Learn About Greek Customs and Traditions in America:
 Planning a Greek Wedding (Part E)

continued from January Newsletter...

After the Wedding
Preserving the Marriage Crowns Stephanoth
ίki

The stéphana are one of the most important symbols of the marriage. They remind the newlyweds that they are united with the blessing of God, and they have a chance to build their own home and family together. The crowns deserve to be properly preserved. Place the crowns in the home ikonostási or in a special case called a stephanothίki (pron. stephanoTHíkί).

The case, handmade or purchased through a Greek specialty store or catalog, may be round, rectangular, or octagonal, made of wood with a glass front. Some contain an electric light and an icon of the Virgin Mary inside. Keep the stephanothίki by the ikonostási or above the marriage bed. A big selection of wedding crown cases is available at Greekshops.com

In some places in Greece, the crowns are brought to the church after the wedding and left on the altar for eight days for a special blessing.

Superstition
Kouféta under the Pillow

It is said that a single woman will dream of her future husband if Kouféta from a bonboniéra are put under her pillow. If Kouféta from the wedding tray are placed under her pillow, her chances of finding a husband greatly improve - the Greek equivalent of catching the bouquet!

Preserving the Candle Wicks
At the end of the ceremony, cut the tips off the two candles from the table with stéphana. These should be saved by the bride and groom. Some say that a jealous person can take them and cast máya on the couple, preventing consummation of the marriage.

to be continued...

 Everything you always wanted to know about Chios Mastic...

Mastic is a natural resin from a small tree, Pistacia Lentiscus, found in Greece and other Mediterranean countries. One of the largest and world famous producers of Mastic is the island of Chios, where all Greek Mastic originates. Mastic gum has been used for centuries by traditional healers for stomach upsets and ulcers, and heartburn. In addition, Mastic is commonly used as a spice for Greek cakes and pastries.

The word `mastic" originates from the old Greek word "mastic" meaning whip because, instead of being pricked, the tree used to be whipped or alternatively, from the Greek verb "maso" meaning to chew in accordance with the medical terms dictionary by W. Cuttman. Mastic has a transparent colour. At first its taste is a bit bitter but then balances and gives out its aroma. The mastic tree can reach a height of 3-4 metres and lives for 150-180 years. There are two types of mastic trees; Votomi and Kallimasiotiki. When the tree becomes sixty years old, decadence begins. It starts producing mastic in the age of 15 but mastic producers prick the trees from the age of six. There are male and female trees. Male trees produce top quality mastic.

How is mastic produced?
Mastic producers make sections (prick) the murk and mastic nuts. Mastic then flows in liquid form on the ground. Pricking is an art requiring special skills. Using a special tool, the trap is prick from bottom to top for 15 to 20 days, mastic is left on the ground to become solid. Before that, mastic producers clear the area around the tree from grass and stones and leave only earth around the root. Then, they cover the area with white earth so that the mastic is not mixed with earth. Each section should be about 15 cm apart from the other. When mastic becomes solid, collection starts. First the hardened mastic is collected from the ground, then mastic is scratched off the trunk and branches. Afterwards, it is sieve, cleaned and sorted, according to its size. The last task is carried out at home. From then on raw mastic undergoes processing. The whole procedure is carried out by the Chios Mastic Producers Association which includes 22 cooperatives. The average production is 40.50 kg per producer per year, with the exception of some who reach an annual production of 250 Kg.

The 24 mastic villages are situated in the south part of the island. It is hard job for the local mastic producers, but it is such a pleasure for consumers to enjoy the product.

The next time you stop at a kiosk, ask for Chios mastic. It is a unique natural product. All other widespread products (liquor, tooth paste etc) also offer a great pleasure and the special aroma of Chios Mastic.

Greekshops.com offers several Mastic products including:
Mastic spice
Mastic gum
Mastic spoon sweet
 
 What's New!!!
 Panoramic Calendar - Greece 2004

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 Featured Destination: Delphi

Photo of Delphi"Now the serene sense is supping with the gods". This was the sense of the poet Angelos Sikelianos who between 1927 and 1930 revived the Delphic Festival, here in Delphi, the center of the earth, wishing to "instill the forgotten Delphic watchword in all human soul The myth recounts that at a certain moment Zeus released two eagles, one from the East, the other from the West, and at the point where the met, he threw the Sacred Stone, marking the center of the earth - the navel of the world. At this point one of the most important oracles of antiquity was developed and cultivated - the Delphic Oracle.

Mythology and History of the Oracle

The cave where the divinity Gaia (Mother Earth) used to utter prophecies guarded by her son, the serpent Python, dates from the second millennium BC (Mycenaean period). It was located on the way from the Gulf of Coninth to Central and Northern Greece, in a region then called Pytho. When the god Apollo was an infant, he killed Python, at the same time abandoning Delphi to purify himself. After the purification took place, he returned to Delphi crowned and took over the Oracle, which from then on belonged to him. Apart from the mythical implications, this act symbolised the introduction of the worship of Delphinios Apollo at Krisa (a town in Phokis, today Hrisso), by the seamen of Knossos. The god became known as Apollo Pythias and the area was called Delphi from that time on. At first the Oracle was under the strict domination of Krisa; It was liberated in 590 BC, and it is from this date that the true history and fame of Delphi essentially began. A number of Sacred Wars broke out for control of the Oracle. The Phokians, Amphissans and even the Athenians vied to avail themselves of its great wealth, interfering with the independence of the priests and the little world that revolved about them. In 191 BC the Romans became masters of Delphi. This was a period of waves of pillaging raids but also attempts to revive the Oracle. However, nothing could halt Delphi's decline and eventually it ceased to be regarded as the navel of the world.


Organization of the Delphic Force
A religious confederation, Amphictyonic composed of representatives (Sacred Scribes) of twelve Greek tribes administered the sacred area and organized the Pythian Games and Delphic Festivals every tour years with sacrifices a performance of the Sacred Drama (whose main theme was the duel between Apollo and Python), music contests, and paeans in honour of the god. The members of the Amphictyonic League met every spring and autumn to vote on decisions which were executed by the Senate. Worship at Delphi was headed by two priests of equal rank who were assisted by a series of free interpreters and sacred slaves. The little town of Delphi: About a thousand people lived in the vicinity of the Sanctuary, exploting the Oracle and the pilgrims in a variety of ways - selling knives for sacrifices or religious objects, exercising the professions of servant and inscription carver. The prophecy ceremony: Whoever wished to consult the Oracle was obliged to pay a tax, the "telono", which gave him the right to approach the great altar of Apollo to offer sacrifices (boars, goats or bulls). Having purified herself in the water of the Kastalian Fountain, Pythia bent over the Navel of the Earth (the Sacred Stone), ate a laurel leaf and, inhaling the vapours emitted from the chasm, entered a state of ecstasy, uttering incoherent words. These were then composed into verses by the Priest, while the interpretes encleavoured to render some meaning out of the prophecy. The priestesses of Apollo: In the beginning the Pythia were chosen from among the young women of Delphi. As time went on, for the priest to be certain of their virtue, they selected them from among women who had passed their fiftieth year.


The archaeological site
(The first excavations began in 1838 and were completed in 1935). The Sanctuary of Apollo with the Treasuries (buildings where the city-states kept votive offerings and religious vessels), the temples and the peribolos (enclosure) lie on the south flank of Mt. Parnassos to your right if you are coming from Arahova. The center of the Sanctuary is dominated by the Doric temple of Apollo. The Sacred Way leads to the temple and is lined with Treasuries, monuments and offerings. Northwest of the temple is the theatre (5,000 seats) where the Delphic Festivals were held, which had as a central theme the representation of Apollo's victory over the serpent Python. Rather further to the west and somewhat above the theatre lies the Stadium where the Pythian Games took place every four years. To the right of the entrance to the Sanctuary is the Kastalian Fountain, where Pythia washed before speaking her prophecies, and on the left and below the road stands the Sanctuary of Athena; finds have shown that it had been dedicated as early as the Mycenaean era to a female deity. The tholos or rotunda one of the most remarkable architectural constructions of antiquity, stands next to it. It is not known what this building was used for.

The Museum
The first building date from 1902. The museum's collection consists exclusively of objects of all kinds from the Sanctuary of Delphi. Among its major works are: the naval of the world (a Hellenistic or Roman copy of the Sacred Stone), the Sphinx of the Naxians (550 BC), the statue of Antinous, the statue of Agias, the group of Thyiads (three colossal female figures portrayed dancing around a flowered column from the Sanctuary of Dionysos, the metopes from the Treasuries of Sicyon and Athens, the Karyatid and Zephyr from the Treasury of Siphnos, the bronze Charioteer, the head of Dionysos.

Epilogue
Still an awe-inspiring location for both Greeks and Europeans, Delphi is a headquarters for international meetings, architectural, archaeological cultural symposia, Congress of Ancient Drama held under the auspices of the European Cultural Centre of Delphi. Perhaps the organizers are reminded of these lines from the "Delphic Hymn" by Angelos Sikelianos:

"Without your aid, 0 God, I will climb to the summit and alone, with my wits and guts - my brothers will wait on the lower heights - I will sing of the heart of Man, my heart"

Sikelianos' house still stands in the modern town of Delphi. Today's residents, having superb facilities for tourists, welcome visitors for as long as they wish to stay. Souvenir shops, restaurants and hotels, both traditional and contemporary in style, stand for both the Greece of today and the Greece of the year 2000, Greece the member of the European Community. You can discover this modern fascinating land, choosing from among the itineraries proposed below, either using your own car, a rented vehicle or the local buses. If you select the latter, you need to have more time at your disposal, but you will have a unique opportunity to get to know a Greece rarely seen by tourists.

Get the travel guide to Delphi here...
Delphi and the Museum
Charioteer of Delphi (Eniohos) Statues
Delphi Tholos Temple
Sphinx Bust

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 Saints' Namedays in February

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

   
 

 

 

 
 1
Tryfonos
2
Ypapanti tou Sotiros
3
 
4
 
5
 Agathis
6
Voukolou / Fotiou
7
Partheniou
8
 Zaxariou / Theod. Stratilatou
9
Nikiforou
10
Charalampous / Zinonos
11
Vasiou
12
Meletiou
13
Akula & Priskillis
14
Ayxentiou 
15
Euseviou
16
 
17
Theodorou Tironos / Poulcherias
18
Leontos Romis
19
 
20
Agathonos/ Vissarionos
21
 
22
 
23
Polykarpou 
24
Nestoros
25
Tarasiou
26
Porfuriou 
27
 
28
 
 
29


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