Sunday, June 25, 2006

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪«Ανάβουνε φωτιές στις γειτονιές…» ♪ ♪ ♪

On June 23rd a very ancient custom takes place in Greece. As the song says,

They light fires in the neighbourhoods…’

in the evening and children and adults jump over the fires. In many areas of Greece the custom is performed in its entirety, including girls bringing the silent water from a well, a public water fountain or the sea (in the latter case, from fourty waves).

But we used to do only the fires, when I was a child. ‘St. John’s fires’ of the fires of ‘Kli'don’ (from the ancient word Κληδών), as we call them, because June 24th is the one of the days that our church dedicates to St. John.

All the children of the neighbourhood collected pieces of wood and grass and we were lighting the fire in the corner in front of our house. In this fire we also were burning the flower wreaths that we made on May 1st and had hung above the entrance door of the house. Then we jumped over the fire. I was afraid and managed only to jump at the edge of the fire, not really over it. I remember my mother, who was not afraid to jump over the flames.... Usually, after a while, the neighbour started ouring water on the fire over the wall of his garden and was spoiling our fun!

In the ancient Greece, this celebration was dedicated to the Sun and the Light and took place around the summer solstice - just like today. The first day of the new moon after the summer solstice was also considered as the first day of the new year in Athens in the ancient times.

The title of this posting is from a song of one of the best greek albums Άγιος Φεβρουάριος (Saint February). The themes of the songs are about Aivali and Smirni.

Does your mother remember this celebration in Thalassia?

I am leaving today for a remote Russian village, where I will not have easy access to internet. More news when I come back to Moscow, next weekent.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

The History of Each Place Written with .... a Needle

This is the title of the newspaper article, from the Kathimerini newspaper, announcing the exhibition of Greek needle lace at the Benaki meseum. I managed to go one Thursday evening.

There weren't many pieces, but there were unusual and very old pieces of kopanelli (do you remember my post a few months ago?) and bibila lace. Most of them came from the islands and mainly from Creta. Among the bibila pieces, were two smal handbags, presented as a gift to Queen Victoria, and two samplers with a variety of small flowers, trees, grass.... You can see part of one in the picture of the article. They were magnificent and - of course - reminded me of the book you gave me!

It was written that the name "bibila" comes from the turkish words "bir biri", which mean one next to the other. Is that the meaning? If so, it is most intersting to know that the greek term for this lace comes from the turkish words, because the turkish name for this lace "oya" probably comes from the ancient Greek word "ouyia" (still used today) which means the edge of the fabric, as the bibila usually decorates the edges of fabrics. We must add this topic to the list of issues to investigate when we start our research project for our book on lace.

Other important pieces in the exhibition were shoulder covers from Creta, made from thin linen, embroidered with colourd threads, in filtiré, with inlaid motifs. Very ellegant and very artistic! You would have loved them!

Another important note in the exhibition was the influence of the Greek lace tradition on the italian reticella lace. There are some excellent examples of reticella lace in the lace file I sent you with the Pandora's email some time ago - the one I had to break in three parts.

The exhibition was one of the events of the Coference of the International Lace Organization (OIDFA, which took place in Athens in May.

Well, that's all for today. I am tired and will go to bed early, as I was travelling from yesterday afternoon till this afternoon. I flew over the Aegean - MOST beautiful at this time of the year! I hope you are enjoying the sea and the vacation life, and that's why I forgive you for not writing often!

Greetings from Moscow!

Sunday, June 18, 2006



I was away for 38 days during my last trip and the seasons changed. So, during my first summer weekend in Cyprus I spend the whole weekend taking out the summer clothes and putting away the winter clothes and washing carpets, blankets, clothes, .... what I should have done one month ago!

The news of you renting a house for the summer appeared magical to me! I am picturing a cure little house in a small resort town, near the sea. You could go to the sea every day!!! Magnificent! It is an excellent idea to meet in Burhaniye and/or in Lesvos! My plans for the next 2-3 months are a little up in the air, however I'll try to find time for some vacation. I've never been to Lesvos!

You really meant when you suggested the trip down the Aegean, from a Greek island across to a Turkish town and back again!!!

The capital of Lesvos is Mitilini and some times we call the whole island Mitilini - I think it is the only island
whose name is confused in this way.... Lesvos is the homeland of many artists. The poetess of ancient times Sappho (7th century B.C.), the folk painter Theofilos (end of 19th century - beggining of 20th century), Stratis Mirivilis one of our most important novelists and one of our two Nobel laureate poets Odysseas Elytis come to my mind now.

Here is a painting of Theofilos, very relevant to our blog's name. There is a museum with many of Theofilos' works at Molyvos.

One of Mirivilis' novels is called "Panagia the Mermaid".... Now that I think of it, it is one of many many many examples of how the sea is weaved into the life of the people in a very natural way... I now found out that the name comes from a fresco in this little chapel, which is called Panagia the Mermaid and is located in the village where Mirivilis was born.

Lesvos is also notorious for two products: ouzo (especially from Plomari) and the most famous Kalloni (meaning Beauty) salted sardines (a strange name to be associated to salted sardines, don't you think? in fact, it is the name of the bay where these sardines are caught).

And I'll close with a folk song from the shores of Asia Minor - I am not sure if it comes from Aivali or Smirni. It is a dialog, probably between a mother and her child. The translation is not making it justice, but I am sure you'll sense the sentiments behind the words. I love this song! I think it is best sung by Domna Samiou (I'll introduce her to you in another posting).

In one of the upcoming Pandora's envelops I intend to include a CD with the traditional songs of Asia Minor, Konstantinoupoli and Smirni, as well as new songs about these places. I am not sure how soon I'll be able to compile this, but I have it in my mind.

Don't worry about the change in the format of the blog... we'll fix it.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Troubleshoot....Ohmmm ~Ç

After publishing two posts today there is a huge blank in the middle of the blog... I hope this posting will recover it....

I had found this image when i am looking for knitting and waited to post a suitable theme, it is for this troubleshooting one, c'est la vie !

Baptism-Bez kesme & Burhaniye ~Ç

I loved your Baptism preperations, however i tried to remember whose Baptism is this - it is dramatic, i know :(- Your Venezulean friend's youngest? And unfortunately i couldn't see in detail your bibila lace... i hope you will be able to take a closer photograph....

10 days ago, I participated to the one of my friends "faşadura-bez kesme (cutting fabric) " ceremony. She is five-months pregnant for a boy and faşadura is a Jewish ceremony for baby preperations, the term is Spanish most probably, have you heard it before? This is from a French web site for baby-showers...

Turquie: La "Fasadura" est très populaire parmi la communauté juive.Organisée au 7ème mois de grossesse, c’est une fête célébrée entre femmes uniquement , pendant laquelle un cérémonial est organisé autour de la découpe d’une étoffe blanche qui sera gardée pour confectionner le vêtement de baptême du nouveau-né.
Il pourra aussi servir pour confectioner le doudou du petit.
) (
this is where i got photo, it is again from Turkiye, Ece Mizrahi's faşadura ceremony and it is from 80s i guess from the ladies haircut and earrings' style :P)
And this is Turkish one I am going to translate the basics however i do wonder how much you are going to get about it :)

türkiyeli yahudilerin geçmişten günümüze yaşattığı önemli geleneklerden biri de doğacak bebeğe giysi hazırlama günü olarak tanımlanabilecek faşadura'dır. faşa giysi anlamına gelir...faşadura, hamileliğin 5. veya 7. ayında pazartesi veya perşembe günleri, (inanca göre dua kapılarının açıldığı, tevrat okunan günler) anne adayının evinde, yakın akraba, eş-dosttan kadınların katılımıyla gerçekleşir. önce bir masa hazırlanır. masa güzel bir örtüyle ve çiçeklerle süslenir. eve gelenler masanın etrafında toplanır. bebeğe gömlek dikilecek kumaş (genellikle ince patiskadır) masaya serilir. toplantıya çağrılanların maddi gücüne ve aileye yakınlığına göre getirdiği hediyeler üstüne konur. doğacak çocuğa bereket dilemek için kumaşın üzerine şeker ve para atılır. yakınlar arasından, henüz anne ve babasını kaybetmemiş kadınlardan biri makası alır ve dualar, iyi dilekler arasında gömleği biçer. gömlek biçilirken törene katılanlar bebek için hayırlı, uğurlu, sağlıklı olması için dualar ederken, anne için de "a la primera boz" temennisinde bulunurlar. bu, "tanrı bir avazda (bir tek çığlıkla, bağırmayla) kurtarsın" anlamına gelen ispanyolca bir deyimdir. bu gömlek daha sonra özenle saklanır ve bebek doğduğunda ilk olarak bu gömlek giydirilir.faşadura töreni daha sonra hep birlikte yenilip içilerek tamamlanır. bu törenle, hem tanrı'ya "sen bana bir nimet verdin, ben hamile kaldım, ben de sana olan inancımı, güvenimi bebeğe hazırlık yaparak gösteriyorum" denmektedir, hem de "hiçbir dilek emek harcanmadan, onun için hazırlık yapmadan gerçekleşmez" diye özetlenebilecek bir yaşam felsefesi sembolize edilmektedir (

And Burhaniye... For this summer we rented a summerhouse in Burhaniye(, very close to Ayvalık if you heard and just opposite to Midilli (Lesbos) island. We are going to there this Tuesday morning and except some occasions in İstanbul we are planning to spend summer there. It is to early mention it but i am dreaming to visit Lesbos, i will take my passport with me. The first question could you manage to come there, Burhaniye, this summer and the second one can we make it to visit Lesbos together this summer?

I am looking forward for your answers ;)

(PS: My draft posting published finally it is just under your last two posts, i loved your copper kitchenware and the iron cast ones, and also your St.John's wort writings and once again i think that how much we have common!)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pots and pans

I am returning to Cyprus tomorrow, after another very long absense! To celebrate the occasion - and to remember how my house is - here is a picture of my collection of moulds and copper pans. I got most of them in America. I love copper kitchen utensils!

I also love cast iron utensils! Decorative as well as of use. I had bought a set of heavy cast iron frying pans, which have become completely non stick with the use and care. Last week, while in Athens, I made spinach pie and since I could not find the oven dish, I decided to bake it in the large cast iron frying pan. It came out excellent! I will be using it to bake pies from now on.

The lavender in the picture is from my lavender plant.

The other plant is fried "sword grass" (spathohorto), as we call it. In English it is called St. John's wort; scientific name Hypericum Perforatum. Have I ever told you about this? We have been using it in our family as long as I remember... It is actually a small bush, which produces yellow flowers around this time of the year. We put the branches with the flowers and leaves (fresh or dried) in olive oil and leave it in the sun. The oil becomes orange colour - we call it "sword oil" (spatholado). We then keep it in bottles and use it on wounds. It has very strong healing properties! My grandmother and my great aunt (her sister) prepared it every year; my mother and my aunt (her cousin) still do it. I recently learned that one can use it on the face, as a moisturizer. I tried it and it does leave the skin really soft. I never asked myself where the name came from, but I recently was told that it probably comes from the old times, when people used it on wounds by swords.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

After a very long time....

Well... it has been too long since either of us posted in Araknhe! Most of this time I was in Russia and you were in America! I was checking whether there was a new post but did not have the time to write.

I am still in Moscow, returing to Athens tomorrow after one full month abroad (Germany, Netherlands, England - one day in each of these countries - and then in Russia for three weeks). We started a new project with a Russian steel plant, located east of Moscow in a small town is in the middle of a forest with artificial lakes. It would be very nice if it were not for the moskitoes, which make it unbearable to stay outside.

As you remember, my mother, sister and friends came to Cyprus for the baptism. We all had a very good time! Till the baptism everyone was busy with the preparations, as my sister made everything (clothes, the decorations and even the cross that the god parent is giving to the child) by hand, with the help of my mother and our friends during the last two days! Here is the dress, made of thin silk and soi sauvage from Soufli
My sister designed it and made it with my mother. My sister was wearing the same design in blue and white. Can you see the bibila lace around the neckline? It was my only contribution to the baptism! Kalliopi decorated the basket used to take the clothes to the church.

Christos, Kalliopi's brother, with my younger sister decorated the baptism candle.

The church was a very small one. It was actually a cave in the rock.

Many more photos from the baptism when we meet!

Unfortunately, we did not get to celebrate Easter properly this year. We were all in different places and the preparations for the baptism took priority. I managed to avoid travelling for two full weeks so that I could stay with my mother and sister while there were in Cyprus and then Athens. It was good! I got to see my boukamvelias starting to bloom. The pictures are not so clear, as I used my mobile. For a long time I wanted to reply to your Bahar Geldi message with some flowers from my verandas and I took these just before I left for the latest trip.

I am looking forward to hearing your news from your latest trip!