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Greek Christmas Traditions

240_f_126815005_rcnrnilercfm699p24ntaakhjcajoje6Greece has many lovely and unique Christmas traditions, and the holiday here is not yet quite as commercialized as you will see elsewhere. During the day on Christmas Eve, children go from house to house singing kalanda (Greek carols) and playing the trigono (triangle), for which they are rewarded with sweets and pocket money.

Families are known to keep a fire burning in the hearth to keep away the Kilikantzari, our very mischievous Christmas elves/goblins that enter houses during this season through unlit fireplaces and play tricks upon the family.green_christmas_ball_png_clipart-23

Although many Greek families now celebrate with a Christmas tree, the tradition still remains to decorate a boat with lights, as St. Nicholas is the saint of sailors and fishermen.

Most families have a lunch of roast pig and christopsomo (Christ bread), a sweet bread decorated with a cross. Christmas gifts are exchanged after midnight on the 31st of December, once St. Basil (Father Christmas) has entered your house and broken a pomegranate with a stone.

In our Molyvos home, Christmas is a time for celebration, family time and enjoyment of the off-season quiet that wraps the village like a blanket. These are the weeks when we restore ourselves, reunite with friends and begin to look forward to what the New Year will bring.

In 2017, we encourage you to spend your holidays in the breathtaking village of Molyvos, Lesvos, and enjoy for yourselves our famous traditions. Our lovely, thoughtfully appointed properties offer comfort and luxury, catering to friends and visitors in all seasons—though summer is most special when everything is blooming, the water beckons and the The Captain’s Table offers the best tastes of the island

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Do visit www.lesvosaccommodation.com and come see us soon!

Christos Anisis (Merry Christmas in Greek)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

with gratitude from

Melinda and Theo

ALL OF LESBOS A UNESCO GEOPARK by Carol P. Christ

In 2011 all of Lesbos was declared a UNESCO Geopark due the work of Nikos Zouros of the Museum of Natural History in Sigri in cooperation with numerous government agencies and the Municipality of Lesbos. 

There are just over 90 Geoparks in the world. Geopark designation is given for: “A territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archaeological, ecological or cultural value.”  To keep the designation as a Geopark, the people of Lesbos and their elected leaders must show that they understand the heritage of the island and intend to protect it and make it accessible to tourists. 

Lesbos has been designated a Geopark because of its geological history. Mount Olympos, the mountain where Agiassos is located, was thrust up from under the sea, along with the Alps, about 200 million years ago. This was during the time when the continents split apart from a single continent known as Pangaia.  As Mount Olympos was formed of plankton under the sea, it is made up of soft marl or marble-like rock. 

In contrast the whole Northwest part of the island was created between 22 million and 16 million years ago during massive volcanic explosions that formed the Aegean Sea. At that time Lesbos was connected to the mainland of Asia Minor, from which it separated only about 1 million years ago.  Evidence of the volcanic explosions can also be found across the channel that now separates Lesbos from Turkey.  The village of Assos, in Turkey, which can be seen from Sikamina, is built of the same type of volcanic stone used to build in Molivos.

Mount Lepetemos which towers over Molivos and Petra may have been one of the largest volcanoes the world has ever seen.  Moliovos itself was a small volcanic mountain.  Lava flows can still be seen in many parts of the village.  The stones that were used to build the castle and the traditional buildings in Molivos are porous volcanic stone.

The rock on which the church of Petra was built was a vein of molten rock that was thrusting itself up from under the earth. It never exploded but remained in the center of a small mountain. Over time, the softer rock of the outer part of the mountain wore away, exposing the volcanic core.  The monastery known as Ipsilos at the juncture of the roads to Eressos and Sigri is built on a larger exposed volcanic core.  The village of Vatoussa is at the center of the crater of another very large volcano that exploded many times shaping the island as we know it today.

The volcanoes of Lesbos sometimes sent out masses of lava flow that might have taken as much as 10,000 years to cool.  These flows can be seen in the shapes of the island’s mountains and hills.  Other times the volcanoes threw out large boulders and great clouds of dust.  Everything in the path of lava flows is burned up. But when volcanic dust settles on living things such as trees, their forms may be preserved. In Lesbos the Petrified Forest was created because dust fell at levels of several meters. Our Petrified Forest uniquely has trees still in place in the landscape with their roots, trunks, and even branches, showing exactly where they were living some 20 million years ago.

Visitors can learn more about the geological history of Lesbos in the context of the geological history of the planet at the Museum of Natural History in Sigri. A part of the Petrified Forest has been excavated on the museum grounds.  There are also a series of signs called “The Lava Path” along the road from Filia to Sigri which explain the volcanic landmarks visible from the signposts. They are well-worth stopping to read as they tell an amazing story.

Carol P. Christ (Καρολινα Κριστ) is Vice President of Friends of Green Lesbos which has been working for years to protect the wetlands of Lesbos.  In 2012 she ran for Greek National Parliament on the Green Party ticket in Lesbos-Limnos.

www.greenlesbos.com 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geopark

Rambo Update

First of all I would like to thank the many people who showed interest in Rambo’s story, I feel I must give this update to prove that in spite of what the  situation it’s never too late to try to save an animal. I have asked my husband and son every single day since I last saw Rambo what his progress was and it was always positive but I didn’t want to write anything until I had seen him with my own eyes. Due to the fact that I am not mobile plus the start of a new working season I was beginning to fret that maybe I wouldn’t see him for months but 2 days ago plans slotted into place and I got the chance to meet up again with our “old man”. I got off my son’s bike quicker than I had ever thought possible and charged off into the field of waist high grass and there he was, quite a way off with 2 of our other horses. We shouted his name and he began to approach us and my son said “shake the bag and see what happens”(we were armed with carrots and apples) I could not believe my eyes!He broke into a lopsided trot and as he got nearer I could see the transformation,not only could he move better but he positively shone in the sunlight.Gone was the dull and lifeless winter coat and in it’s place was the black sleek summer coat that gleamed with health,once again I cried of course but they were tears of joy and disbelief this time. We fed him and almost had to wrestle his head out of the bag at times and this was when I really noticed his eyes. They were alive and full of life,shining and full of mischief, Rambo was well and truly on his way to recovery,he still has a problem with his legs but he can definitely get himself where he wants to be, he still needs to pad out a little more but that will come in time but all in all his progress has been far better than I could ever have wished for.  After a while, when he had had his fill and had paid his respects to us he sauntered off to join the horses again, my heart was at peace and my mind at rest. This day we had 2 young girls with us, Justine and Claudelle, my son had met them quite by chance at the restaurant he works at and funnily enough they had read my first story about Rambo. They are here on a photography course from Canada and from what I have been told they have taken numerous shots of him already and soon their work will be shown in a local exhibition, I cannot wait to see the fruits of their work! Our “gentle old man’ will get his five minutes of well earned fame and I will be one of the proudest people present.                                                                                                       

Before I end this update, Susan, I have to tell you that yes, the 50 euros were taken but we paid willingly and I should also explain that Rambo had been loose on those hills for about 2 years so our hopes of ever seeing him again were dwindling daily.God bless the man who bothered to recapture him and God bless Rambo for accepting us again so willingly.     

Alaine

A Greek Jewel

There is an American film made in 1954 that sometimes reminds me of Molyvos. It is called ‘Brigadoon’ directed by Vincente Minnelli and it tells the story of a magical Scottish village of that name that rises out of the mists once in one hundred years so that the inhabitant may enjoy one day of their lives before it sinks back into timelessness for another one hundred years. Two American trout fishermen wander into the village and find that they never want to return to the so-called real world. When they finally do so they are affected by an excruciating nostalgia for the place they have lost.

The similarities with Molyvos are startling and not a little disturbing. I have been coming to Molyvos for over forty years now with my partner Julie Copeland and I have known visitors who have strayed into the village (your uncle and aunt were two such people, Melinda) who came for a few weeks and never left. You can sometimes see these time lord castaways wandering along its beaches and sheltered coves behaving like bird watchers but in fact looking, in a somewhat bemused way, for a key out of the place.

Molyvos spins a special kind of enchantment. It is geographically an island attached to an island. It sits on its peninsula like a jewel brought up out of the depths by a skin diver with a pastoral mixture of farmland, habitat and seascapes on three sides. Wherever you look Nature is there. The mother island, Lesbos is always somewhere else, on the horizon, or looking over our shoulders. This location recreates a special ambience, a perfect balance between nature and culture.

I come here each year to write. There must be some kind of creative pact between me and the village that I don’t remember signing, some kind of erotic electricity because the feeling when I return is not just that this is in many ways my second home (although that is a fantasy – I know like the two American fishermen in Scotland somewhere in the back of my head that it isn’t and that I will have to leave – but that I am being plugged into a mysterious kind of cosmic force. The creative juices loosen up after the tough round of teaching at a film school, freelancing as a critic and broadcaster and generally trying to make trouble for whichever government is in power in Australia. And I begin to write as though I had never left my desk here. I don’t keep count of the number of poems I have composed in Molyvos but I do know that I have written over fifty short stories and five novels while being comfortably ensconced in one of the most beautiful landscapes that I have ever seen. Best of all the village is still somewhat difficult to get to, especially from the Antipodes. The relative, the tax collector, the student asking for immediate attention can’t find you here.

This other neutral space, keeping the rest of the world at arm’s length, also applies to the village’s inhabitants. One day I am going to sit down and write a soap opera (day time television and Ophrah will love it). We can go away and come back the following year and there is always an electrifying family drama taking place or continuing the next exciting episode somewhere: the last mayor has run off with the village post mistress; the proprietor of a local pensione has been transformed into a Greek version of Faulty Towers and thrown out all his clients from England because he doesn’t like the sound of the language; a mad animal loving Swedish couple has tried to take a dozen cats- tom, feline and ten kittens – back to Stockholm in a basket disguised as a container for fetta cheese. I must say that your own family too is pretty good on the domestic drama chapters. At this level Molyvos reminds me of one of those big shell-like Greek theatres with the principals groaning and tearing out their hair while a line up of townspeople playing the chorus mutter into their coffees and ouzos that nothing good can come of such public carry-ons.

It is true that time brings change. We have lived together through the dark years of the military dictatorship, the hardships and sometimes poverty of a village in those days of the sixties and seventies depending on its fishermen and farmers for sustenance and the first years after the collapse of the junta when the tourist buses and package tours began to pour into the place bringing great changes, not always tactful, no, let’s face it downright ugly, to its valley and foreshore. But somehow behind the commercial crassness that did bring jobs and financial relief to many the real village, the timeless village still sits there in the labyrinthine allies and winding stone staircases so that I can say hello to Therapiotis stitching his nets on the doorstep of his house or your stepfather, the ‘captain’ of the Captain’s Table whom I have known since he was about eighteen, a boy going to do military service and now a great sea captain sitting in his retirement having a parea with his mates outside one of the cafenios. Or the women who screech the gossip across the rooftops: ‘Akous’ Kale!!’ The many microcosmic kindnesses from such people that make this not just a holiday place but a living, breathing organism. In that sense its sense of a community, of a humanism that still values the individual and gives us, its guests a space to be individuals, is timeless.

There are tough times descending on Greece. The money men will pack their carpet bags and do a runner. The international tour operators will move on to Syria, Morocco or Madagascar. Perhaps the village will have to rethink its way of life as indeed the rest of Greece will. But this quality that I am trying (and failing) to pin down, this marvellous beauty invested by light, calm and sensuality as the poet Verlaine dreamed of, inhabited by decent, hard working and parea loving individualists, will survive and thrive. It is like the myth of the lost island of Atlantis that rose out of the water and sat above a jewel faceted sea and became a touchstone for the classical world of a perfectly balanced civilization, the Golden Mean which the actual classical world hardly ever achieved in spite of its rhetoric and its searching. We are the lucky ones who accidentally stumbled upon Atlantis.

(C) Dr. John Slavin

GOODBYE TO THE MYTH OF MITHIMNA

THERE’S a myth among British birdwatchers that the ONLY place worth staying on Lesvos is Skala Kalloni.

It’s a misconception probably shared by birders from other European countries who flock to the island for each spring and autumn migration.

Only those in the know seem to choose  Molivos –  or Mithimna to give it its historic name – as their base.

Well, in my humble opinion as an avid birdwatcher, it’s about time someone banished this myth about Mithimna.

When it comes to finding a perfect place to combine birdwatching with walking in spectacular, hilly scenery, having a massive choice of eating places and history around every corner, then Molivos is the place to be

Is there any nicer place in the whole world to round off a day’s birding than with a meal on Molivos harbour side, watchingdolphins and diving terns in the fading light?

Skala Kalloni with its salt pans is only a 40 minutes drive away.

All around Molivos are superb places to seek out the birds – some of them rather rare – from dense olive groves to the magnificent coastal strip between Eftalou and Skala Sikamnia. 

Even among the narrow streets and alleyways of the old town, there are birds to be seen and heard. You just have to look and listen.

Swallows nest under almost every  canopy and overhang of buildings.  Most years, for instance, they successfully rear young on top of an ornamental coach lantern under the canopy of  The Captain’s Table restaurant on the harbour.

As darkness falls, the monotonous  call of the Scops owl can be heard around the town squares and among the eucalyptus trees alongside the school.

The sound is reminiscent of the slow “peeps” of the Greenwich time signal.

Molivos is a place where it is usual to spot the unusual.


Floodlights which illuminate the castle are a magnet to moths and other flying insects. So birds such as nightjars and little owls are quick to take advantage of the ready meals.

Last year, barn owls, little owls and kestrels all nested within a few yards of each other in stone crevices  near the castle’s main entrance.

Keep an eye on the sea, too. Some years, thousands of

Mediterranean shearwaters can be seen in the huge bay between the harbour and the Kavaki headland. At times there are so many it looks like a giant oil slick.

The headland itself, near the “disco on stilts”, is known as one of the best places in Europe to see the very rare Ruppell’s Warbler.

Inland, the reservoir off the Vafios road is a good place to see Eleanora’s falcons hunting for dragon flies. Many other birds can also be “ticked” here.

In our 16 years of holidays in Molivos – sometimes twice a year – my wife Sheila and I always  see at least 120 species.

Really keen birdwatchers can expect many more than that.

FRANK WOOD, press officer for the Bolton area of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in North West England.

The world’s best yoga spots

25 January 2011 | By Abigail Hole, Lonely Planet

Most peaceful

Angela Farmer and Victor van Kooten’s yoga hall (www.angela-victor.com) is situated deep in the Greek countryside, in a quiet olive grove in the Eftalou Valley, only five minutes from the beach. The only sound you will hear is the distant jingling of sheep bells. There are three hours of asana each morning and evening meditation and pranayama on the upstairs terrace.

Lesvos, You Beautiful

Poem by Sappho translated by Molly Drake and Sabina Glas

 

Born out of fire,

mingled by waves your waters caress me,

your rocks support me

Your winds carry the old with them

Your sun warms my heart Old Dragon Woman, you,

who are resting there

Calling me into your dreams

Whispering silently your messages into my ears

Your snake children wandering through me

And your stony body mixes with my bones.

This loosens my soul and dreamt of brother ego

That sent this distant message to me,

Strong bones, strong heart, strong minds

My songs and dances call

The shining companions out of the sea I could catch a glimpse of their play

In my heart I melted with them and followed them

In Dreams I danced and sang with earthy playmates

Praising your beauty and breathing in the hot water the Strength of Mother Earth