Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Greek Collection: Shabby chic Greek flag for Independence Day

It's an Independence Day bank holiday today for people of Greek heritage all over the world. The origins of the formation of the modern Greek state has its beginnings in March, 1821. Yanis is due to spend it in Hania. (If the parades turn into a musical feast, you might even get to dance with him.)

A funny story related to Greek Independence took place just this week at my workplace. My non-profit institute's finances are monitored by the various organisations that fund it, which includes the Greek government. Checks are performed even on our library acquisitions: we were recently asked to justify why an institute with an agronomic nature such as ours, which uses English as the main working language of the institute, bought a book about the Greek revolution of 1821, in Greek, to add to our library. I wrote the following justification to our funders:
"Greek and English language lessons are offered to students, both during the academic year, and the summer school period. The Greek-language book about the Greek Revolution of 1821 is of great value for students studying the Greek language, who wish to gain an understanding of Greek history from the Greek point of view, as most material that Greek-language learners will most likely read about Greek history is in another language, and therefore the Greek point of view may not be expressed."
HIstory is open to interpretation. Library acquisitions have wider readership than just the acquisitioning library: our acquisitions can be shared through the institute's interloan system, which is connected with other institutes in the wider region of Crete, for the needs of university students. In this way. such material has a greater audience, and the knowledge that they contain can thus be shared among more people. 

A sky full of Greek flags will be flapping in our springtime breeze today, sporting the traditional blue and white stripes. We rarely see less traditional flag designs based on the Greek flag, so I wonder what people will think of my shabby chic patchwork creations. Greeks are not really into the shabby chic design - they prefer more modern lines. 

Shabby chic: a form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are chosen for their appearance of age and signs of wear and tear or where new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique. (Wikipedia)

Bonus information - The book about the Greek revolution is not the only book we had to justify:  
"The Gatekeepers of Galatas (by Brian Taafe, in English) is based on the history of the wider region of Chania. It is written by a New Zealand academic living in Australia, whose father was stationed in the region during WWII. The local history detailed in the book - the battle that took place in Galatas, Chania, in an area known by the allied soldiers at the time as Pink Hill - has had little mention in contemporary writings about WWII. The usefulness of this book as a resource to students is in its descriptive value of rural life in Chania during WWII, with which students can make direct comparisons with their own experiences of the region."
Mentioning the war - that war - is bordering on the taboo these days. But just what was village life like in Hania during WWII? The book's descriptions of Galatas, a village only 5 kilometres out of Hania, show that, despite its proximity to the main town, the village was typical of many other villages further inland: simple houses, lime-washed stone walls, earth floors, long stone ledges to serve as seats, beds covered by rough woven blankets, very few bits of furniture in the houses, consisting primarily of a dowry-type chest full of linen, a weaving loom, an oil lamp, an icon, and πύθοι (earthenware urns) for water and oil. People ate fairly frugal, yet healthy diets, made up of pulses and other vegetables, herbs and wild greens, olives, village bread, paximadi (dry hard rusk), goat cheese, snails and, on a very seldom basis, meat. This was supplemented by olive oil, honey, fruit and berries, and washed down by wine and raki. The village roads were lined with pollarded mulberry trees, whitewashed against insect attack, some flowerpots and other trees, and the houses were covered by maze-like vines that provided shade. Life was not as hard as in the mountains, but it was hard nonetheless, wrote the author. There also seemed to be a shortage of food, according to the author's father; the villagers were very generous, but there was little available to buy. 

Compare all this to the situation nowadays - we've come a long way, and there's no going back.

©All Rights Reserved/Maria Verivaki/The Greek Collection/Organically Cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.