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Greek Customs and Traditions in America: Planning a Greek Wedding (Part A)
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September Recipe:
Meat Stuffed Eggplant
(Melitzanes Papoutsakia)
4-5 Eggplants (2 1/2 lbs.)
1 lb. Ground lean meat (beef or veal)
3 Spring onions, finely chopped
1 Medium onion, grated
1/2 Cup finely chopped parsley
2 Cups chopped fresh or canned tomatoes salt and freshly ground pepper.
1/2 Cup olive oil
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 Cup thick Bechamel
2 Egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 Cup grated Kefalotiri or Romano cheese
2 Tomatoes, thinly sliced
Choose elongated eggplants.  Wash, wipe, and cut off the stems.  Halve the eggplants lengthwise; sprinkle liberally with salt and place in a colander for 1-2 hours.  Rinse with cold water and squeeze out the excess water by pressing between the palms.  In a large frying pan, fry the eggplant in olive oil over medium heat, until they are golden brown.  Arrange them closely in an oiled ovenproof dish, flesh side up, and set aside.  Saute the onion in the oil, until transparent, mix in the ground meat and saute until lightly colored, approximately 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, parsley, seasoning, and toss briefly over high heat. Then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the sauce is very thick.  Remove from the heat and lightly, and mix into the meat mixture.  With the back of a large spoon, press down the flesh of the eggplant and spread evenly.  Prepare the bechamel and fold in the egg yolks and half the grated cheese.  Spoon a small amount  of bechamel sauce over the meat, smooth the surface and place a cheese and a dash of freshly ground pepper.  Pour a small amount of water into the baking dish, and bake in 350˚F oven, for about 1 hour, until the tops are golden brown.  Serve the dish hot, accompanied by salad-filled tomato cups.
Excerpts from:
"Greek Cuisine" Vefa Alexiadou

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

Most Greek Orthodox weddings in the United States combine Greek and American customs.  Use an American wedding etiquette book as a basic planning guide.  Such books are available for purchase or may be checked out of a local library.  Add the Greek customs included here --bonboniéres, stéphana, bouzoúki, and baklavá --for a unique and joyous Greek-American wedding!

Setting the date

Marriages cannot be performed on certain church feast days and during some periods of Lent.  For example, do not plan to marry during Great Lent and Holy Week.  (See "Guidelines for Marriage in the Greek Orthodox Church" below)

Selecting the Koumbáros(A) and other attendants

The koumbáros (male) or koumbára (female), the official sponsor of the marriage, must be Orthodox and in good standing with the church.  Generally there is only one koumbáros(a), but some priests permit couples (koumbári).  (In formal Greek the word paránymphos is used for koumbáros[a].)

Traditionally the groom's godparent is asked to serve first and then the godparent of the bride.  If neither of them participate, ask a close friend or family member.  Remember, this is an important relationship lasting a lifetime.  Koumbári become almost like family.  Consider also the suitability of the koumbáros(a) as a godparent, since he or she usually baptizes the first child.

The koumbáros(a) can be the best man or maid of honor, but this does not have to be the case.  No other attendants, except the koumbáros(a), are required to be Orthodox.

Responsibilities of the Koumbáros(A)

The koumbáros(a) stephanóni the couple.  Stephánoma is the act of exchanging the wedding crowns three times above the heads of the bride and groom during the service.

The koumbáros(a) should provide the following for the marriage ceremony (see explanations below):

  • Proof of good standing in an Orthodox church
    (a letter from the parish priest)

  • Marriage crowns (stéphana)

  • Wedding tray layered with kouféta and rice

  • Two candles

  • Wedding rings (purchased by the couple)

  • Gratuities to the priest, chanter, and sexton

  • Optional:  Wine goblet

to be continued...

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 Featured Destination: Karpathos Island

Photo of KarpathosThis second largest island of the Dodecanese chain lies between Rhodes and Crete. It is rather rectangular in shape and its terrain is mountainous, the highest peak being Kali Limni at 1,214 metres above sea level. Most of its settlements are to be found on its south coast, which is relatively flat.

Near the north coast is a small island called Saria, with which Karpathos used to be united. On this islet, at the site called Palatia, there are some ruins belonging to the ancient town of Nisyros

Karpathos' capital and main port i's Pigadia or Karpathos on the southeast coast. It was built primarily with funds sent home by immigrants to the United States and it does not reflect the local architectural style found in the older villages.

Thirteen kilometres to the northwest, you come to Plies, mountainous Othos to the northeast with its folk an museum, and Volada, a traditional village with houses whose interior decoration is well worth a look.

Further north, near the west coast, is Messohori, where there is a genuine Karpathian house open to the public.

Note its characteristic wooden ornamentation and the pebble mosaic floor. Still further north, almost cut off from the rest of the island is its most important village, Olimbos, which is accessible only from Diafani, Karpathos' second port.

Olimbos sits on a hillside overlooking the Aegean. Founded sometime between the 10th and 15th century, it was originally fortified to afford its residents protection from the pirates. The highest spot in the village used to be crowned with a tower. Even today Olimbos has preserved its local architecture intact, both in the interiors and exteriors of the houses. Its citizens take pride in maintaining their traditions and still speak a dialect which contains severed Dorian words and idioms.

Karpathos has many beautiful beaches, Finiki and Amfiarti to the southwest, Makriyialos to the southeast, Agia Irini on the west coast and Agios Nikolaos on the east.

Get the map of Karpathos here...

Visit more parts of Greece with the Cadogan guide

Thinking of Greek Island Hopping? Here's the complete guide.
Greek Island Hopping 2003

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 Saints' Namedays in September








2 3
Gennisi tis Theotokou
Ioakeim & Annis
12 13
Korniliou, Aristeidou
Ypsosi tou Timiou Staurou
Sofias, Pisteos, Agapis, Elpidas
Eumeniou, Ariadnis 
19 20
Sullipsi Prodromou
Metastasi Ioannou Euaggelistou


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