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This Year, Our Calendars Unite!

25 Feb

“Are you in a cult?” my friend once asked me.

My friend and I led a Protestant ministry for young adults, and I had mentioned that I actually celebrate Easter on a different day than most Protestants. Growing up, I had always celebrated Easter at the Greek Orthodox Church. Granted it was the only time of year my family went to the Greek Church (we went to a Protestant church the rest of the year), but we were pretty adamant about that being Easter.

No, I’m not in a cult, I sighed, aggravated that she would think that. In fact, there’s much more tradition and practical reason for celebrating Easter when I do.

The Greek Orthodox Church follows the old calendar system, the Julian calendar. Protestant and Catholics later decided to follow the new Gregorian calendar. What this means, though, is that sometimes Protestants and Catholics celebrate Easter before Jewish observers celebrate Passover. And if you know anything about these religions at all, you know that that doesn’t actually make a lot of sense since Jesus’ Last Supper is suggested to be a Passover meal.

This year, however, our calendars happen to coincide!

…I guess that means no discounted Easter candy for me this year.

Resources:

  • For a very thorough explanation on the calendar differences by an esteemed authority, I recommend this article by Dr. Lewis J. Patsavos.
  • For a more conversational approach yet also thorough, I recommend “A Tale of Two Easters” by Borgna Brunner.

The Smell of Meat Lofting in the Air

20 Feb

 

Mmm… smell that smoky aroma? It can only mean one thing! Today is that special Greek holiday known as Tsiknopempti. Literally, it’s Charred Meat Thursday.

Yes, that’s right. We have a whole holiday devoted eating meat. Tsiknopempti is the preamble to Great Lent. Basically, you eat a whole lot of meat now because you’re going to be fasting for a long time. Longer, in fact, than the 40 days of Great Lent, since the meat fast starts ten days before that.

Do you fast?

Previous posts on Tsiknopempti:

Happy Tsiknopempti!

Hello, Carnival; Good-bye, Meat

 

Immigrants à Gogo

22 Jan

 

garychangimage via Vulture

Discussing how all immigrant writing is dystopian, the unique pressures of being the children of immigrants, and critiquing their own cultures, Boris Kachka’s interview with Chang-rae Lee and Gary Shteyngart in New York magazine offers brilliant insight on the state of immigrant literature.

Here’s a quote from Shteyngart that particularly resonated with me:

And to jump off of that, I teach Native Speaker in my “Immigrants à Gogo” fiction class at Columbia. I read it every year, and there are phrases like “my mother’s happy kimchi breath” that bowl me over. I didn’t know one had permission to write like this about one’s ethnicity. I was absolutely shocked that one could get away with that. And I didn’t see that with a lot of immigrant writers. I still don’t. I can think of Junot Díaz, a few other immigrant writers, but there’s a lot of this sort of endless overcoming of obstacles, racism, the triumph over adversity, and off we go. And that’s not what Chang-rae writes.

Growing up, I wasn’t at all interested in immigrant fiction because I so often found it to be depressing studies of being the Other. Or else, the overriding factor of the book was ethnic pride or the mystery and allure of that culture. As Lee said:

And the people leading those ethnic pride parades are those members of your group that you probably least admire.

Kachka’s interview with Lee and Shteyngart brings to the forefront many of the concepts I’ve been thinking about for my own memoir, which deals not so much with a personal immigrant experience but more so with expectations and identity from a tangential viewpoint.

You can read the full interview here.

THE Beach to Visit in 2014

21 Jan

BeforeMidnight

Greece—specifically Arillas Beach in Corfu—is listed by Fodor’s as one of the 15 Best Beaches for 2014. …And so is the Jersey Shore, with a shout-out to Ocean Grove. It’s like they’re just listing the beaches of my childhood.

Can I give you an insider tip, though? For a less touristy, more authentic beach visit, check out Lagouvardos Beach. It’s in the Peloponnese, on the mainland of Greece. It’s become especially popular with surfers.

It also happens to be where Before Midnight was filmed.

And just check out these pictures I took there at sunset!

What’s your favorite beach? Coney Island??

New Year’s Resolution: Have Fun, Thanks to Eventsy

13 Jan

eventsy logo

One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 is to have more fun! New York City is perhaps the greatest place on earth to live, but when you live here you sometimes forget that. Life gets in the way. Things like work and grocery shopping (or getting takeout) and, in my case, readings and publishing events leave little time for play.

This Wednesday is the launch of a new women-run social club that takes the work out of planning your social life and puts the fun back into it! Maria A. Pardalis, the woman behind the Greek American Fashion Shows I’ve been covering the past two years, co-founded Eventsy with marketing maven Soula Adam. They’re kicking off their launch with an event at The DL and have a slew of unique social events already lined up:

New York City’s newest and hottest upscale social club, Eventsy, will celebrate its official launch on January 15 at one of NYC’s favorite nightclubs–The DL, located at 95 Delancy Street. Eventsy is an emerging start up that was created for professionals between the ages of 21 – 55 that are simply tired of spending unnecessary time and effort into planning their social lives. Having fun, making friends, networking, meeting a significant other and discovering new things shouldn’t be complicated or another item on anyone’s “to-do” list.

Eventsy will begin the celebration with a VIP Cocktail Reception from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., followed by an open celebration from 7:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy signature Eventsy drinks, unlimited access to an onsite photo booth, sweet treats from Potion Cupcakes & Xocai® Chocolate, a water station by Hint, upbeat music by DJ Paulie K and a pampering session by skincare experts Rodan + Fields®. The night will also feature a live performance by Violinist Sarina Suno, complimentary gifts and several chances to win valued prizes from sponsors.

A bold, women-run company, “Eventsy is a New Yorker’s very own personal event planner that essentially makes it easy for members to once again enjoy a rich social life, meet new people, and network in an enjoyable environment without having to be glued to a computer screen and engage in impersonal online interactions,” stated co-founder Maria Pardalis. “We are unlike any other social club in New York, as we create affordable, tailored events for our members.”

Events include weekly business networking happy hours in a relaxed environment, intimate signature dinners &fun brunches, upstate vineyard tours, riveting kayaking adventures, paintball competitions, rock climbing expeditions and weekend getaways. Members will enjoy premier access to NYC’s hottest lounges, restaurants, bars and nightlife as well as exclusive invitations to film & movie screenings, all for a membership fee that is affordable for busy New Yorkers.

Eventsy is one’s very own personal planner – events planned around core interests, full time staff with service 7 days a week, and personalized attention to detail. Individual membership is priced at $365 per year. When a member refers a friend, both the member and friend will receive a $50 event credit. For more information on membership, please visit http://www.eventsy.com/membership.

About Eventsy

Eventsy is a multifaceted members-only social club that brings a new breath of fresh air in the event, activity, and get-away arenas. By going the extra mile and only coordinating interactive events with a purpose, Eventsy bridges the current social gap by providing unique fun-filled adventures, business networking events that are actually fun, and
endless travel and sporting opportunities.Based in New York City, Eventsy is dedicated to providing a friendly platform for which its members can make new friendships, meet professional contacts and/or a significant other, all while embarking on life-enhancing and fun
experiences.For more information on Eventsy, visit www.eventsy.com.

See you at The DL!

Microaggressions

9 Jan

Kiyun Kim’s photography series Microaggressions capture the casual racism of our American society. The Fordham University student photographed fellow students holding signs with the subtle racist remarks they often hear. The comments probably aren’t intended to be racist, and I would imagine many people think they’re actually complimenting the person.

When I found out about Kim’s work via Flavorwire, I recognized a lot of the signs as comments I’d heard directed toward many of my friends. And while White privilege means I don’t have to deal with racism in the same way that others do, as someone whose skin is too pale for Greek functions and whose name is ethnic for many Americans—not all of whom were White—I have heard my fair share of remarks that were less than culturally sensitive.

 

“Stephanie, can you explain to the class who the Titans are?”

“That’s so nice of you to show an interest in your husband’s culture.”

“In the Koine, there are five different words for ‘love.’ Today we’ll be talking about philia. …I hope I pronounced that correctly with Stephanie sitting in the room!”

“Which is your favorite translation of The Iliad?”

“So how did you find out about this event?”

 

How do you deal with remarks like this? On the one hand, you don’t want to overreact because usually the people saying these things don’t understand the hurt it may cause. On the other hand, they will continue to say these things to you and to others if they’re not corrected.

A Perfect Morning to Jump Into the River

6 Jan

739px-Cross_being_thrown_at_Theophanyimage by Jim Maggas via Wikipedia

After a weekend of trudging through dirty city snow, I was surprised—and thankful!—this morning to discover the temperatures had risen enough to melt away the large icy barricades surrounding every crosswalk. I changed out of my snow boots and put on ballet flats. Ballet flats! In the winter! Even my puffy black jacket didn’t seem necessary, but perhaps that’s because a few days before it had been so cold I was wearing my jacket in my apartment.

The warmer winter temperatures had perfect timing. Today is the day in the Greek Orthodox religion where the priest throws a cross into the river and boys jump in to save it. We call it Theophany, but many religious New Yorkers would more likely know it as Epiphany. It refers to the day John the Baptist baptized Jesus of Nazareth in the Jordan River and is the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God. You can read my explanation here.

I wouldn’t recommend actually jumping into the river yourself, but I have witnessed the Blessing of the Water ceremony. If you ever get a chance, it’s quite a sight to see here in New York City!

Writing Wednesday: When Two Words Become One

11 Dec

1560

Welcome back to Aristophanes week!

Yesterday I mentioned that fun bit of trivia that Aristophanes is the creator of the longest word in literature that I gleaned from Oliver Tearle’s Huffington Post article “12 Fascinating Facts About Famous Literature.” Like any dutiful Greek scholar, I read some of Aristophanes’ plays when I was in college. They were strange and wild reads.

What I don’t remember learning back then and which I found while I was reading up on him this week was that Aristophanes had a knack for heaping words together, creating long, tongue-twisting compound words. It’s no wonder he’s the king of the longest word in literature!

Take a look at that last word in this stanza from The Acharnians:

How many are the things that vex my heart!
Pleasures are few, so very few — just four -
But stressful things are manysandthousandsandheaps!

The word Aristophanes used there in Greek was the made-up word ψαμμακοσιογάργαρα, which actually meant “sandhundredheaps.”

Meanwhile, in The Birds (no relation to Hitchcock’s film!), Aristophanes coined the word Νεφελοκοκκυγία, which translated is the compound word Cloudcuckooland. Genius, right?!

Okay, so when writing about the longest word in literature Tearle mentioned runner up James Joyce:

Some may think that James Joyce is responsible for the longest word in all of literature, but the longest he managed was 101 letters long, in Finnegans Wake. (This word, for those who are interested, was Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhoun-awnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk, referring to the thunderclap associated with the Fall of Adam and Eve.)

You word nerds won’t find it too surprising that Joyce appropriated Aristophanes’ penchant for inventing new words since he was more than mildly inspired by Greek literature. You already know that Joyce’s Ulysses parallels Homer‘s The Odyssey. In Ulysses, he created made up and compound words like “scrotumtightening” and “endlessnessnessness.”

Now, I’ve made the point before about the connection between the Greek Classics, James Joyce and Jack Kerouac, and here is another instance in which we see the influence in that Kerouac used compound words as well. He used words like “hangjawed,” “redhot,” and “sicksicksick.”

Through the course of literary history, many authors have used compound words for effect and have coined their own words.

Can’t find the right word? Make up your own!

* * *

Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!

The Longest Word in Literature Is, Of Course, Greek

10 Dec

Ari

I always take a deep breath before I spell out my name for someone, a nonverbal warning to the person asking for it to prepare themselves. “N as in ‘Nancy,’” I say, then pause. “I-K.” Another pause, just like I heard my mother spelling it out so many times to credit card companies over the phone when I was growing up. The spelling out proceeded like that for some time, til all twelve letters were given.

Most of our friends get used to our long last name over time, so when I recently had to spell out the address of where my parents live in Greece for a family friend, I warned her to make sure she had enough room on the paper. This place name was long even for us.

I was not at all surprised, therefore, to learn via The Huffington Post, run by a Greek woman, that literature’s longest word can be found in a Greek play. Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen, an ancient comedy about the upheaval that occurs when women insert themselves in politics (things like: men must sleep with an ugly women before they sleep with a beautiful woman), contains a word that is 171 letters.

From Oliver Tearle:

Since you’re doubtless itching to know what this word is, I’ll give Aristophanes the final word: Lopado­­temacho­­selacho­­galeo­­kranio­­leipsano­­drim­­hypo­­trimmato­­silphio­­parao­­melito­­katakechy­­meno­­kichl­­epi­­kossypho­­phatto­­perister­­alektryon­­opte­­kephallio­­kigklo­­peleio­­lagoio­­siraio­­baphe­­tragano­­pterygon.

And if you’re curious what that looks like in Greek, I found it on Wikipedia:

λοπαδοτεμαχοσελαχογαλεοκρανιολειψανοδριμυποτριμματοσιλφιοκαραβομελιτοκατακεχυμενοκιχλεπικοσσυφοφαττοπεριστεραλεκτρυονοπτοκεφα-λλιοκιγκλοπελειολαγῳοσιραιοβαφητραγανοπτερύγων.

It’s the name of a dish that has about that many ingredients in it (okay, maybe only 16 or so but that’s still too many ingredients, and it sounds disgusting).

 

* * *

Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!

The Quotable Greek: Quick, Bring Me Wine

9 Dec

AristophanesImaginary portrait of Aristophanes from ca. 1896 via Wikipedia

“Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever.”

~Aristophanes

 

 

Discover other Quotable Greeks here.

* * *

Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!