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December 31, 2012

POTHARIKO (FIRST FOOT OR FIRST STEP)

                     Pothariko (first foot or first step)

      One of the many customs Greece has on New Year's Day is the Pothariko, which in Great Britain (correct me if I'm wrong!) is called "the first foot". It has to do with the very first person entering the house in the new year. This person must be a good-natured, lucky person in order to bring good luck to the house. Therefore this person is usually carefully picked by the homeowners to do so. They often choose their kids as they are considered innocent, good souls.

      The person entering the house must do so with their right foot first so that everything will go "right" for the household the whole year. Upon entering the house he or she throws with force a pomegranate to the floor and as it splatters all over the place s/he wishes that the house will have such an abundance of health, joy and goods all year long!
      Of course such customs are considered by many as superstitions, still, we like keeping them alive! Traditions/customs are something we all ought to keep and continue honoring, because they're part of our identity and culture and also because they make the holidays unique and more enjoyable!


      What are your country's New Year's Day traditions?

Photos are courtesy of Google images.



December 29, 2012

VASILOPITA (ST. BASIL'S PIE)

 
      New Year's Day is quickly approaching and Greeks are still in a festivity frenzy! 
 
      The holidays aren't over just yet (we have another big holiday after the New Year's, coming on the 6th of January the Theofania (Epiphany). There's no work on that day and all the stores are closed as well. I will be making a post about it).

      The pie you see in the photo is called Vasilopita which means St. Basil's pie. It's a traditional New Year's pie that every household bakes for this day and it's the first thing we eat when the year changes at midnight, so that everything will be sweet in the new year. Inside the pie there's a coin hidden. At midnight when the year changes the father or grandfather using a knife symbolically carves a cross over the pie 3 times before slicing it. Every slice is dedicated or called for a specific person.

The first slice belongs to Christ, the second slice to
the Virgin Mary, the third slice to St. Vasilios, the fourth slice goes to the poor and thereafter every slice goes from the oldest to the youngest in the family and guests present. The last piece just belongs to the house. Whoever finds the coin in his/her slice is considered to be the lucky one of the year. If the coin is in one of the first four slices then it is offered to the church or someone who is poor.

     It is said that St. Vasilios (St. Basil) was a well-educated and wealthy man who gave all his fortune to help the poor and needy people. One story says that in order to help out the poor without insulting them or embarrassing them he devised this trick of making little pies and hiding a coin in them before offering them the pies. In time this little pie was named after him and was an offering of joy and blessings.

     Also, we celebrate St.Vasilios on the 1st of January and everybody named Vasilios or Vasiliki (the female version) celebrate as well, receiving gifts and wishes just like a birthday! (read post about Name Days)

Check out my Vasilopita recipe!

 


VASILOPITA RECIPE


Ingredients:

1/2 cup milk (room temperature)
1 cup butter softened
2 cups sugar
500 gr (appr. 6 cups) all- purpose flour
4-5 tsp baking powder
5 eggs
orange juice from 2 oranges (appr. 1/2 glass)
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 finely chopped apple
1/2 cup Cognac (Metaxa) or Brandy
1 1/2 tbs orange zest
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cinnamon stick

Directions:

      Marinate from the night before in a bowl the cognac, the orange zest, the orange juice, the walnuts, the apple and 1 cinnamon stick.

     The next day, in a large bowl blend (beat) the sugar with butter until it becomes fluffy white. Then add the eggs one by one. Add slowly the marinated mixture (after removing the cinnamon stick) and the flour sifted together with the baking powder, the vanilla extract and gradually the milk. Beat for another 2-3 minutes. Pour the batter into a greased and flour sprinkled round pan. Bake in pre-heated oven (325 degrees F or 165 degrees C) for about 70 minutes or until done. After it's baked place the coin (that you have previously wrapped in foil) anywhere you choose in a vertical position and a little deep. Then flip the pie/cake upside down on a platter (do that with the help of the platter) and after it has cooled down sprinkle it with powdered sugar. Your vasilopita is ready!

P.S. Placing the coin in the batter before it's baked will result in the coin sinking to the bottom (which will be later the top) and showing!


 
 
 
Photos are courtesy of Google images.



December 27, 2012

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION

                         NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS



New Year's resolution: a commitment that a person's makes to one or more personal goals/projects, a commitment to self-improvement...

Joey Adams
"May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions!"
   
      Every end of the year we always tend to review what we did and did not do the past year and as the new year approaches we anticipate new beginnings and decide to start afresh with new goals. We are overzealous about it, yet most of the times we fail miserably shortly after. According to a 2007 survey of over 3,000 people conducted by the British psychologist Richard Wiseman, 88% of all resolutions end in failure.

December 22, 2012

THE LETTER


      As Christmas Day draws near  I think it is important to remember the real reason for the season. Let us all take one single minute, take a deep breath, calm ourselves from the havoc of these last days of festive preparations and read this letter.


Remember my Birthday

      As you well know. we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is a celebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated. During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer.

      It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me. As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago. At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration. Family and friends get together and have a lot of fun, but they don't know the meaning of the celebration.

      I remember that last year there was a great feast in my honor. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates. The decorations were exquisite and there were many, many beautifully wrapped gifts. But, do you want to know something? I wasn't invited. I was the guest of honor and they didn't remember to send me an invitation.

December 20, 2012

KOURABIETHES - GREEK CHRISTMAS COOKIES



      There isn't a home during Christmas time that won't bake (or at least buy) kourabiethes. Even though one can find them in pastry shops all year round, during Christmas it is the honored dessert and/or treat for guests along with the melomakarona. (will be posting this recipe after Christmas, don't miss it!)


      Kourabiethes (also kourambiedes) are sugared shortbread cookies made with toasted almonds. (There's also a version with walnuts or hazelnuts). In Greek: koo-rahb-YEH-thes. They have simple ingredients and are simple to make!
      The key to good Kourabiethes is the use of butter, and lots of it! Mind you, it has to be good quality full butter!



Recipe for Kourabiethes
(recipe is for 2 baking trays, aprox. 80 cookies)


1 lb. unsalted pure butter at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar (confectioner's, icing)

2 egg yolks
3/4 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
 
2 cups of roasted almonds, coarsely chopped

1 shot of cognac or brandy

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 heaping Tbsp. of baking powder

5 cups of of all purpose flour
, sifted

For topping:
1/2 cup Rosewater
Extra icing sugar for powdering (about 2 cups)

 

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar. Then add the oil. Add the egg yolks and beat for 10 minutes longer.
  2. Add some of the flour (add 1-2 cups at a time and keep some to add later). Poor your brandy (cognac) to a large glass and then add your baking powder and stir it until dissolved. Now pour this mixture, along with the vanilla extract and the nuts and continue beating until blendid in and the dough is a cohesive soft mass.
  3. Start kneading with your hands the mixture and s-l-o-w-l-y add the flour to the mixture until all the flour has been absorbed.
  4. Set the dough aside to rest for about 30 minutes.
  5. Using your hand, grab a piece of dough the size of a walnut and form them into the shape of choice - crescents or patties (you could also use a cookie cutter). Place each formed cookie on a baking tray lined with parchment paper (or greased cookie sheet). Repeat process until all dough has been shaped into cookies.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven (middle rack) for 25 minutes for each batch.
  7. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with rosewater, then roll in the powdered sugar. Dust serving plates or platter with confectioner's sugar and add cookies.
    Now place some more icing sugar in a sifter and generously dust the Kourabiedes with more icing sugar until well-coated.
  8. The cookies can be stored in a sealed container, in a cool, dry place and they’ll keep for at least two weeks




December 19, 2012

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY #9


             A WOMAN'S LIFE IN 3 PICTURES

SINGLE

MARRIED

DIVORCED
















Photos are courtesy of Google images.


December 18, 2012

DAY OF SILENCE


      We can’t imagine how they must be feeling, especially this close to the holidays. We would love for you to spread the word on your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Let’s make a difference and use blogging in a positive way.
       Thank you in advance for participating.
                                                                       Love,
                                                              The Blog World

                          

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
                      love leaves a memory no one can steal."



      Prayers coming from Greece as well, as this affects parents all over the world. I am praying hard for the families who lost loved ones and for the people of Newtown to heal and begin to move forward with their lives.
 
      Remember to be thankful for the loved ones you have in your life. Hug them tight not only today, but every day.




 

December 16, 2012

DYI CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS USING OLD CHRISTMAS CARDS!

 
      There's this Greek blog that I'm following called
http://www.jenny.gr/  that is absolutely fabulous! It has articles about beauty, style and fashion, health, celebrities and lifestyle, home decorating, recipes, etc. (You should check it out!) It is there that I came across these wonderful ideas of reusing old Christmas cards and I thought I should share them with you!
 
      I'm sure you have plenty of them from previous years that you just can't throw away and can't put them ALL on display either. So why not do something creative with the cards this year! (and the next...)
 
You could make a festive banner out of them!
 

The Christmas cards could make beautiful holiday placemats! (Lamination is of course necessary!)

 
Cut them in different shapes and create fancy 3D ornaments for the Christmas tree.

 
Create a unique wreath.
 
Cut them into small gift tags! That is always handy!

 
If you're emotionally attached to some of the cards and don't want to destroy them, why not make a beautiful album of them!  
 

If you have any DIY ideas about Christmas decorating, please do share!



December 13, 2012

GREEK CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS



How do we celebrate Christmas in Greece? Well, the customs are many and they vary depending on the region so I'm just going to tell you the ones that are mostly common all over the country.

First, the Greek Orthodox Church is celebrating Christmas on December 25th, on the same date as the Catholic and Protestant Churches. In Greece when we talk about the "holidays" we are referring to the holiday period of Christmas, New Year and Epiphany on January 6th.
The Greek name for Christmas is Christougena which literally means Christ's birth. When Greeks say Merry Christmas, they say Kala Christougena. Also, we say Kales Yiortes=Happy Holidays




Even though the decorations have become more lavish and extravagant and the foreign influences are evident,
Christmas remains a quiet, solemn season that is still close to the true spirit of the holiday. It is not very commercialised, yet!

December 11, 2012

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY #8

 
It's time to think of buying a calendar for the next year!  Isn't it?

Ever wonder why they always use women for calendars?



 
























 
Just doesn't have the same feel, does it?

All photos are courtesy of Google images.

 



December 9, 2012

CHRISTMAS DECOR

    
      This weekend we finally set up our tree! Along with Christmas music, fireplace and hot chocolate! Last weekend we decorated the house and when I say, we I mean with the kids, the hubby helps a little too. I usually do it in two phases cause doing it all together is too much work and kids tire easily (mom, too!)   
                           

  
Here's our tree! I think my kids did a marvelous job decorating the tree this year. I hardly participated! Somehow they made it look overdecorated and I always thought we needed more ornaments! Of course, the nativity under the tree is a 'must'. This year I added some of the tree's lights in it to add a glowing effect to it. (Hubby's idea!)
     I couldn't take a picture of it with lights on (probably need a high tech camera or something) but believe me it looks good in the dark. A little tip from me to you:

December 6, 2012

CHRISTMAS IN ATHENS, GREECE




      Christmas is right around the corner and the season is in full swing in Greece, too!

      The City of Athens and other cities all over the country have dressed up with Christmas spirit. Holiday decorations are set up in streets and squares, musical and artistic events are scheduled and my city is turning into a a never-ending carousel of festivities.

      Even though Christmas in Athens in the past was a richly decorated affair, I'm afraid the financial crisis won't allow extravagant displays/celebrations this year.

      Nevertheless, the Municipality of Athens has some activities scheduled:
      On Tuesday, December 11 the holiday festivities will officially begin with the lighting up of Syntagma square downtown Athens that is usually accompanied by The City of Athens Philharmonic. 16 Christmas trees created by art students will be the main attraction this year combined with a huge ice skating ring that will be free for all citizens.

      Other well-know squares and streets will be filled with music and dancers entertaining passer-bys and spreading the Christmas spirit.


      There will also be "Christmas workshops" inviting youngsters to participate in toy making workshops or be entertained by pantomime.

      There are also special events planned to welcome the New Year with a fantastic party featuring hundreds of fireworks and music performed by popular artists. 

      I will be posting more of this year's photos in upcoming posts. For now check out Athens from previous years:








There's also a post coming up with interesting Greek Christmas customs!
Stay tuned!!!






Photos are courtesy of Google image and glittergraphics.com

December 4, 2012

FIRST BLOGOVERSARY!

WELCOME TO MY FIRST BLOGOVERSARY!!!!
                              

I'm one year old! OPAAAA!!

It was this day in history, just one year ago when The Greek Housewife was born.

Welcome to my first blogoversary post!

It's an occasion to celebrate, (us Greeks jump for joy at any occasion/reason to celebrate) so let's start with some music while you're reading.

OPA, OPA,......OPA, OPA....

Today I'm celebrating my one year blogoversary.
I officially started The Greek Housewife on December 4th of 2011, though I only really got serious about blogging (because I finally figured it out) in August of 2012.

It all started on the evening of the 3rd of December during a a visit by my best friend Helen. She talked about a blog she had stumbled upon that was very interesting and suggested I do the same. A what? A Blog? What in the world was that?! I was clueless, I hadn't even heard the word 'blog' before but the idea intrigued me. I was desperately in need of an escape from routine and what better if this is of the creative kind and a mentally and stress relieving opportunity/activity/hobby!

I became fascinated with the idea. Fascination soon became obsession! One evening I was discussing it with my best friend and the next morning it was already born! (It was an ugly baby at first but it has come a long way since then!)

I did a lot of researching about templates the hows, the dos and don'ts, reading other blogs to see how they were doing it, how to set it up, etc. WOW! The things I learned! All through trial and error! It was very frustrating as I made many mistakes and was led to many 'dead ends' but I wasn't giving up.

The house suffered until I could get the hang of it. Everything and everyone was neglected! I was obsessed! For a long time I was posting only for a handful of readers (if that!). It was disappointing! My GFC was stuck at 7 members for many months. The comments were almost non-existent. And then in August (can you believe it 9 months after starting?) I discovered that I had to make myself known by socializing and networking! Well, duh! Stupid me, I was expecting hordes of readers to discover me just by accidentally stumbling upon my blog! Double DUH! Not very proud for my not so intelligent attitude but REALLY I hadn't any clue about blogging! I mean, give me a break!!!


That is when I discovered bloggers.com! I joined and met so many other bloggers from around the world and slowly but steadily I started picking up on the ways I could make myself known and attract more followers. Basically, in August, I was reborn!

I definitely think starting this blog was a great decision and I don't regret taking the plunge. Blogging is definitely requiring a lot of energy and time but the rewards/benefits have been amazing!

For the past year now:
  • I have been connecting with people from around the world and becoming a part of a community filled with creativity and diversity!
  • I have made incredible friends online
  • I have been inspired by others as being inspiring myself.
  • I have gained a voice (outside the house!) that people care to listen to
  • I have a creative hobby (that allows me to also let off some steam)
  • Blogging is something wonderful to look forward to!

Now, if you are curious about numbers, here are a few facts:
  • Total posts: 130
  • Total comments: 462
  • Total followers: 107
  • Total pageviews: 14654
  • Awards: 8 (+ two that are on the way)

These numbers may not be impressive to many of you but I'm very proud of them (and I'm actually counting since August!).

All this has become possible thanks to all of you! I thank each and everyone of you, whether you're a follower of mine or not, for you have endured this trip of discovery with me. I appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog, read my posts, write a comment and become a follower even if you only did one of those things only one time!!!
Special thanks to my best friend and initiator Helen for her idea and support!Smooches! XOXOXO!! Also special thanks to a few great bloggers who have given me tremendous help with my blogging adventure. Hooray to you! (You know who you are!)

From the bottom of my heart, ALL OF YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!

My birthday wish before I blow out my first candle?

I hope I can make this blog better and more interesting and that you'll all continue to come along for the 'Greek' ride !!!

Let's have a toast: "To many more blogoversaries to come." OPA!!!

Please leave a comment telling me what you like about my blog, what you don't like about it and what you would like to see/read in The Greek Housewife.



Photos are courtesy of Google images and glittergraphics.com





December 1, 2012

"HAVE A GOOD MONTH"


 
 
Kalo Mena!  = Have a good month!
 

      In Greece every first of the month we wish each other to have a good month, kinda like when we say 'Have a good week' on Monday or 'Have a good day' in the morning, etc. In fact there is a greeting for practically everything "Good day.. midday.. . afternoon... evening.. .night... week... month... year... winter... work... journey... holidays... rest... "

      December is here and I can say that Christmas feels like it's just around the corner. The pre-Christmas fast has started, stores have "put on their christmas outfits", many houses are already decorated (I'm decorating mine this weekend!), the streets are lit with christmas lights, christmas shopping has begun, the radio plays christmas songs, the TV plays christmas movies and shows (already!) and well, the commercials, OH! those endless commercials about toys and stuff...ARGH!!! 


What other proof do you need? It's December!!!

Tis' the season to be jolly...
Fa,la,la,la,la,la,la,la...