Archives for December 2012

Greek New Year’s Day Tradition

Hello Friends,

I have a confession to make!

A few years back, on New Year’s Day, I cheated and did not feel remorse at all!  

I felt sooooo good!

Let me tell you what happened.

Continuing the same Greek tradition from the time I was a child,  in our family we celebrate and share gifts on New Year’s Day.

Christmas was purely a religious holiday.

It was always St. Basil who brought presents on his feast day, not St. Nicholas on Christmas. I never understood what St. Nicholas, the saint of the seas, has to do with gifts.

Anyway, our children, young and old, come to our home, looking forward to this gathering of many generations, excited about the gifts they’ll get but also the “coin” as well.   

One of the beautiful traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church is the cutting of the “Vasilopita” or Saint Basil’s Sweet Bread, on the first of the New Year, on St Basil’s feast day.

According to tradition, when the local governor of Caesarea in Minor Asia was pressing for taxes, the people asked St. Basil, bishop of Cappadocia, for help. He advised them to gather their valuables and give them to the governor. 

So impressed, however, was the governor with St. Basil when he delivered the jewels that he did not want any taxes.

St. Basil had some women bake round loaves of sweetened bread and in the bread he hid the jewels. When those loaves were distributed, people were amazed to find in the bread the exact item they had given.

History has it that St Basil, the great philanthropist he was, wanted to distribute money to the poor. Careful not to embarrass anyone with charity, he arranged gold coins in loaves of bread and sent them to the poor. When the families cut the bread, they were pleasantly surprise and grateful to find the coins.

The Vasilopita tradition continues today, with a coin inserted in the baked sweet bread.

The sweetness symbolizes the hope that the New Year will be filled with the sweetness of life, freedom, peace, and happiness for all who participate. Dusted with white powdered sugar, it resembles the snow-covered earth. Pomegranate seeds sprinkled on the platter around the Vasilopita symbolize the abundance we are blessed with.

The older person in the family does the honors of blessing and cutting the bread. The center of the round loaf is offered to our Lord Jesus Christ. Then, wedges are cut around. The  second  piece is offered to the Virgin Mary and the third to St. Basil. After that, cut pieces are passed, beginning with the eldest.

The person who finds the coin is considered Blessed throughout the New Year.

A few years back, one of our oldest grandchildren, Spyros N, six years old at that time, came in the house with a long face. He did not get a coin at his own home celebration or at his maternal grandparents’ gathering.

Yiayia” he said, “I have to get the coin today! My brother was lucky twice already.”  

I should have prayed and left it to God, but, with only one coin in, how would He have satisfied all six of the children?

OK! OK! I guess, I did not have enough faith!

So I took matters in my own hands and went on with the festivities.

After dinner, it was I, not my husband, who blessed and cut the sweet bread. The adults had their piece, but found no coin. I was watching Spyros N. He was happy so far but cautious, as he knew that his older cousin, Spyros P, was next and he could be the one to get the coin.

The anticipation was evident on his face. 

The next slice goes to Spyro P. Before even taking a bite, he breaks the bread apart, and thrilled to find the coin, he lifts it up and exclaims!  “I got it! I got!”

All children were disappointed, but noone like Spyro N. Gloom and disappointment was all over his little face. He was just barely holding his tears.

Without saying anything, I cut the next wedge and hand it over to him. He did not want to touch it. At my insistence, he took a bite. I wish I had a camera right there to capture his expression for ever, as he realized he had bit at a coin.

Soon enough, all the children were shouting with joy and excitement, holding on to their coins!

The years after that one, we blessed everyone with a coin. In return, all of our children, young and old, blessed us back with joy, love, and laughter!

 

This New Year’s Day, I am reverting back to strictly traditional practices. Our grandchildren are old enough now to know they cannot always get what they want. Not finding the coin does not mean they will not be blessed. As long as they keep Jesus in their hearts and their lives, blessings will follow them. It is up to us to persuade them of that.

PLEASE JOIN ME IN A PRAYER!

O Lord our God, bless this New Year by you divine grace. Grand gentle showers unto fruitfulness of the earth.

Send healthful and seasonable weather for man and beast; 

Rear the infants, guide the young, support the aged.

Living in a world of pain, greed, and violence, constantly challanged, can be overwhelming.

Please show us the way inward to our heart, to find Your Divine answers and share with others so that we might help all.

Grand us peace in the face of overwhelm, knowledge in the face of doubt, resourcefulnes in the face of seeming lack, and

help us see the silver lining behind the darkest clouds! 

Accept our prayers and, please Dear Lord, grand this New Year as the beginning of a new world,  where love, compassion, peace and harmony will replace greed, suffering, and violence for all.

AMEN!

 

I wish you all a blessed New Year, full of health, love, prosperity, peace, harmony, and success in all your endeavors!  

Grateful and honored to have you in my life!

I  love to know how you celebrate New Year’s Day!

What traditions are you following from your own culture?

Have you adopted any new? Please share with us!

Katina

The Christmas Message

My dear friends,  

The birth of the holy child once again brings new hope, specially this year as a new and better world is being born.

Jesus comes to shed light in our hearts. Love and Hope to our hopeless world. Goodness and kindness, peace and forgiveness, greatness and glory to our Earth.

His birth brings Life and Peace. The peace that is summarized in

the message of Christmas, the song the angels sing: 

“GLORY TO GOD, GOOD WILL TO MEN, PEACE ON EARTH!”

Sharing with you my little poem!

CHRISTMAS

Heaven and Earth become one.

God is born to us.

God is born within us.

Angels and Stars announce the Rising Sun.

The Sun of Knowledge

The Sun of Righteousness and Love

Maria’s Son

The Son of God

The infant King

Among Angels and men

Born to bring Love, Freedom, and Peace.

With a grateful heart,

Let’s accept His gifts.

Let’s embrace Love, Freedom, and Peace.

Let’s make choices that count.

Let’s be tranquil and serene.

Let’s love ourselves as He intended

Let’s love the World.

Love is the reason He was born.

Only then will we be free,

Only then will the World have PEACE!

 

Wishing you all blessed and joyous Christmas!

Enjoy the following card that my friend Patty Apostolides sent me. It is a good reminder about what the season is about..:

http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=2007134554829&source=jl999

 

The Next Best Thing Blog Hop

 

Hello my friends,

I pray you are all well and make time to enjoy the beauty of the season! I welcome you in my blog today!

Today, I am very happy to invite my friend Dimitri Vasilakos, a wonderful young writer from Greece, to talk to us about his forthcoming book of exceptional depth and creative writing.

Dimitri, welcome to my blog! I an honored to have you! I also look forward to reading your book!

Dear Katina,

Your blog is an example to be followed by other aspiring authors like me for it provides a wonderful meeting point for like-inspired minds to converge and brainstorm with  ideas, experiences, and information.

We should feel lucky that we live in this technological period!  The internet gives us the opportunity of connecting, no matter how far apart we live.

That said, I would like to thank you for inviting me to guest post, considering the fact that I do not have a blog of my own yet. This is the first time I am offered an opportunity to share thoughts about my forthcoming novel/series titled:

Under  the Trees of Neoalsia.

I also appreciate the fact that I can learn about other authors and their works.  Independently of the genre, we all have one core thing in common – the ‘itch’ to express ourselves and our experience in a creative way, which is liberating, perhaps even therapeutic for some of us.

At the  same time, it enriches our lives because of the feedback we may get regarding our works, our viewpoint about life,  the world and anything that makes our psyches tick

 

 And now I will nswer some questions about my book.

 

What is the title of your Book:  Under the Trees of Neoalsia

 

Where did the idea come from for your book?  From the sacred Tree of Life cited in several ancient spiritual traditions, and Kabbalah in particular, as well as from the ancient Egytpian Djed pillar (the ‘spine’ of the god Osiris).

Both the Tree and the Djed pillar are depicted in these two images and they are essentially the same thing. The symbolize the ‘Sacred Axis’ around which the universe revolves, but also the ascension of human consciousness that may transform the world.

In addition, the Djed pillar symbolizes the link between the ‘below’ (the material realm) and the ‘above’ (Heaven) and – again – together with the Tree, they have inspired the Christmas Tree, which is a pagan symbol of ascension and connection with Heaven.

 

                                        Tree of Life  –  Flower of Life – Stage

Tr-Abydos

What genre does your book fall under? Fiction! A spiritual fantasy!

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? My book ties everyday life with the spiritual world, the present with the past – separate notions only due to our material perception of life and the world.

However, in reality they intertwine and interact. Human consciousness, here, is pivotal. Depending on how low or how raised it is, consciousness will either perceive things as separate or as one.

Separation brings frustration. It alerts our self-preservation reflexes (which make us aggressive to each other), fear, mistrust, misunderstanding, and pain.

The sense of oneness (related to higher consciousness) sees the unity in things and connects us all  with a Common Source. This in turn brings liberation from all the ills of the sense of separation. Then we can ascend to a higher state of being because above all (our material body included), we are immaterial selves./souls?????

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Iwould like to go throught the traditional way, but I do not rule out self-publishing. It will be interesting to hear what others have to say about that.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? One Year

What other books would you compare this story to?Although ‘particular’ in the sense that it deals with the rarely introduced – if at all – antediluvian past of mankind and the Precession of the Equinoxes influencing our lives, this series could, however, be regarded as having some elements akin to works such as: Imajica by Clive Barker, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay and That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

Who or what inspired you to write the book? The ancient Egyptian god Thoth, whom the Greeks called ‘Hermes Trismegistos’ and the Romans ‘Mercury’, is very central in the plot. I was inspired by him and his legacy, which has inoculated western mysticism. He was considered to be the link between mankind and the divine (therefore, related to the Djed pillar and the legend of Osiris).

According to ancient Egyptian priests and certain esoteric scripts, he was a historic figure from the deep past of mankind. An Atlantean sage who transferred the rich knowledge of Atlantis to Egypt, following the Great Flood – Hence, he was deified by the ancient Egyptians later on. In this context, ancient mythologies, esoteric traditions and sacred symbols where yet another source of inspiration.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Under the Trees of Neoalsia is a tale based primarily on historical fiction, alternate history and magical realism.

It conveys certain eccentric worldviews of antiquity and knits them with our times. The ordinary modern-day backdrop gradually blends with the supernatural and as the characters grow, reality changes.

The various subplots rouse the reader as a greater arc intensifies over four volumes: A Fool’s Journey – The Magician and the Hermit – The Hanged Man under the Tree and The Chariot and the Wand. A sequel is currently under development, as is another freestanding prequel.  

 Finally, I would like to add that our person-hood originates in the higher realms. It only assumes a human body as a vehicle of expression, in order to experience the ‘low’ material realm. We, therefore, must learn through our lives and past experiences how to break-free and regain our higher position – in other words, to go up the Tree of Life, or the Djed pillar.

In short, this is the essence of my novel/series in spite of all the fantasy aspects it entails.

After all, what is fantasy? Isn’t it a product of our intangible intellect? Just because we cannot touch our intellect, doesn’t mean it is not real. As such, real and unreal, fantasy and non-fantasy may be more related than we think.  

 

Again, Katina, my warmest regards and best wishes to you and to all the wonderful inspired souls who visit and spend time in this blog of yours.

Each one of us will follow different paths towards publishing. Considering the fact that this is not an easy affair, exchanging experiences will surely shed more light to this process.

 

Thank you for visiting,

I would be grateful if you shared some of your thoughts and knowledge on the subject of publishing.

Dimitris Vasilakos,

Glyfada, Greece