We are all aware of the challenging times Greece is presently facing. That is why we developed the Ideas4Greece campaign. We believe this is the best way to initiate a global discussion and bring awareness to the issues of a country we all cherish so much. We call you and all members of the Greek diaspora from all corners of the world to share your idea on how to help Greece by answering this question: “if you had the power to change something in the country what would it be?”. Upload your video (up to 2 minutes) stating your idea (please feel free to post a youtube response to our Ideas4Greece video), via twitter, Facebook or by leaving a comment on this page. Greece needs us so lets be there for her. Show your support and share you thoughts on how Greece can thrive again. Let your voice be heard and inspire others to speak up for a good cause.
Until now we have had the participation of many prominent Greeks:
The idea for this campaign was born while attending the NIC 2010 conference in Chicago. The campaign is presented by renowned Greek actor Alexis Georgoulis who is depicted as a man tied up with his mouth taped while he sits watching the Ideas4Greece. Meanwhile he is tormented by his good and bad self and becomes more and more anxious. Finally he succumbs to the urge to break free and have a voice and he escapes from the ropes and tears of the tape from his mouth. He wants to be heard too. What are you waiting for?
Most Greeks know about the golden pages of heroism written by the Greek soldiers in the mountains of Northern Epirus, when Greece bravely fended off the Italian attack in the Greco-Italian War of 1940.
Many, however, ignore the contribution of Greek women; their voluntary and spontaneous offerings and self-sacrifices remain a largely unknown side of the war, especially outside Greece.
The women of Epirus offered their homes to accommodate Greek soldiers, as well as offering food, blankets and every kind of clothing, and they did not hesitate to give all their supplies of food even to the horses of the army.
They were also known for knitting socks and other clothes to keep Greek soldiers warm during the bitter cold days of fighting in the Pindus Mountains, when temperatures reached dangerous lows.
In his war diary, Argyris Balatsos says: “I have met women carrying ammunition. One of them was 88 years old… The snow, the frost, the terrible cold, didn’t seem to scare them. All of them, full of joy, wanted to supply the army with what the transport vehicles couldn’t. Truly the miracle of women.”
The women of Epirus were unsung heroines of the Greco-Italian War
Climbing along steep ravines, in extremely difficult weather conditions, these heroic women also acted as nurses, carrying wounded soldiers to safety and providing first aid.
Women also helped the Army engineers in the arduous labor of opening and repairing roads and bridges during the Greco-Italian War.
According to a testimony by Takis Ε. Papagiannopoulos, when the engineers failed to build a bridge over Vogiousa river due to the rushing waters, a group of women entered the water, and holding each other tightly around the shoulders, formed an earthwork that checked the rush of the river, making it possible for the bridge builders to complete their work.
There was also at least one recorded incident in which Greek women actually fought the Italian invaders in the village of Limni in Epirus, on November 20, 1940.
A group of Italian soldiers had captured around a dozen young women and were taking them to the school of the village when Greek soldiers suddenly appeared.
The Italians were surprised by both the presence of the soldiers and the reaction of the women, who using axes and large chunks of wood, chased them away. At least ten Italian soldiers were killed and 25 were taken prisoners in this incident.
Although the contribution of the women of Epirus to the war effort is not widely known, it deserves to be recognized, even decades later.
Frothy, cold, and full of caffeine, nearly everyone–Greeks and non-Greeks alike–loves the classic Greek coffee drink “Frappe.”
Frappe coffee, or Greek frape, is a foam-covered iced coffee drink made from instant coffee, sugar, ice cubes and water. Occasionally, people add milk to the drink.
It is very popular in Greece and Cyprus, especially during the hot summer months, but has spread to other countries around the world, and especially wherever Greeks are present.
The Greek frappe became a symbol of the post-war outdoor Greek coffee culture. Although the freddo espresso, another Greek invention, has become very popular, the frappe, to this date, remains the most popular coffee beverage among the Greeks.
But what is the history of the frappe and how it came to be? After contacting Yiannis Michalopoulos, Senior Brand Manager at Nescafé of Nestlé Hellas, the widely known story of the frappe being invented by accident at the 1957 Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) was confirmed.
Dimitris Vakondios, an employee of the Nestlé company, invented the delicious coffee drink at the TIF. Nestlé was introducing a new chocolate beverage for children that was produced instantly in a shaker.
During a break, Vakondios wanted to have his regular Nescafé Classic but he could not find any hot water, so he mixed the coffee with cold water in a shaker, and the Frappe was born.
The frappe has become the iconic coffee of Greece
Frappe took over its official name and became the national coffee beverage of modern Greece around 1979. Although the word frappe originates from the French word meaning “shaken” or “stirred,” the Greek invention has nothing in common with the French chilled beverage produced in a shaker, which contains milk or fruit juice instead of coffee.
Greek frappe is available in three degrees of sweetness, determined by the amount of sugar used. These are: glykós (sweet – two teaspoons of coffee and four teaspoons of sugar); métrios (medium – two teaspoons of coffee and two teaspoons of sugar); and skétos (plain – two teaspoons of coffee and no sugar).
All varieties of the drink may be served with or without milk. Sometimes, frappe is served without any water (besides the water used in the foam) and milk is used instead. This variation is most commonly found in Cyprus. Different kinds of liquors are sometimes used for additional variation, as well as chocolate milk or a ball of vanilla ice instead of milk.
The preparation recipe is quite easy. The coffee can be made either with a cocktail shaker or an appropriate mixer (e.g. a hand mixer). One or two teaspoons of coffee, sugar to taste and a little water are blended to form a brownish foam, which is poured into a tall glass. To this, add cold water and ice cubes, and, optional, milk – typically evaporated milk. The glass is served with a straw.
Nescafé Frappe has been exported to many European countries, including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Bulgaria, the USA and Australia.
Ever since its first commercial launch in 1979, Greek Frappe has been symbolically and visually connected to the easy-going and careless summertime for Greeks.
This iconic connection and the frappe’s unique ability to maintain its quality longer through the heat than any other beverage, has resulted in the myth of the frappé being a symbol of a lazy day on the beach during the iconic Greek summertime.
However, Michalopoulos explained that extensive research has shown that the two key reasons why someone chooses to drink frappé are stimulation and social sharing, not laziness.
Kavala, a businessman and philanthropist was jailed in 2017 despite having not having been convicted of a crime.
The envoys, including the U.S., French and German representatives in Ankara, issued a statement earlier this week calling for a resolution to the case of Osman Kavala.
Erdogan said that the statement was an “impudence” and ordered the ambassadors be declared undesirable.
“I gave the instruction to our foreign minister and said ‘You will immediately handle the persona non grata declaration of these 10 ambassadors,’” Erdogan told supporters during a rally in Eskisehir.
“They will recognize, understand and know Turkey. The day they don’t know or understand Turkey, they will leave.”
The diplomats, who also include the ambassadors of the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and New Zealand, were summoned to the foreign ministry on Tuesday.
A declaration of persona non grata against a diplomat usually means that an individual is banned from remaining in their host country.
On Monday, ambassadors from Germany, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the US urged a “just and speedy” resolution to Kavala’s case.
In a joint statement, the ambassadors of the 10 countries called on Turkey to follow the rulings of the Council of Europe, a human rights body it joined in 1950. “The continuing delays in his trial … cast a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency in the Turkish judiciary system,” said the statement.
Kavala charged over 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan
International observers and human rights groups have repeatedly called for the release of Kavala and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, who has been jailed since 2016.
They say their imprisonment is based on political considerations. Ankara denies the claims and insists on the independence of Turkish courts.
On September 17, the Council of Europe issued Turkey its final warning to release the 64-year-old entrepreneur, warning that infringement proceedings against Ankara would start at the end of November if Kavala was not released by then.
But Turkey, so far, has refused to acknowledge the ruling made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on December 10, 2019, which stated that the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated and therefore ordered Kavala to be released immediately.
The ECHR concluded that Kavala’s arrest was based on political motives, without any reasonable evidence backing the accusations. However, Turkish officials did not implement the decision and said the ECHR’s judgment was not final.
Greek sweets are famously decadent and delicious. There are a number of traditional sweets that remind Greeks of bygone days, when kids enjoyed carnivals and fairs.
Old lady’s hair, or cotton candy
Old lady’s hair is a timeless treat that is known as cotton candy (United States, Canada), fairy floss (Australia), candy floss (England) and dragon’s beard (China).
No matter what you call it, there’s no denying that this spun sugary delight conjures images of childhood joy.
The dessert was developed in the Medieval era at a time when sugar was rare and expensive.
Back in those days, only knights and damsels could afford the sugary treat, and very few people got to taste it. Early chefs spun different shapes from it, including dragons, castles and mythical creatures.
Fast forward centuries later, and fairy floss became a staple for children in Greece and around the world. Associated with feasts, fairs, amusement parks and the circus, mass production of fairy floss machines were welcomed by Greek youngsters.
Loukoumades, the traditional Greek sweet
Loukoumades are heavenly fried dough, served warm with honey and drizzled with walnuts and cinnamon or – if you like – sesame seeds.
The oldest recorded dessert in the world was first served to the winners of the Greek Olympics, according to Greek poet Callimachus who referred to them as “honey tokens”.
In later years, loukoumades became a representative of Greek Cucina Povera (Kitchen of the poor) because of the easily accessible ingredients that would give joy to children with a bit of flour and sugar during the Nazi Occupation and post-war years.
Now, widely accessible as a street food, loukoumades have been elevated to a gourmet level and are filled with nutella, vanilla and all sorts of different flavors… but – despite development – there’s nothing like the traditional, original and simple loukoumades of times past.
One of the easiest Ancient Greek recipes to cook, it is mass produced and readily accessible at any Greek kiosk or supermarket.
It can be made using different types of nuts, however, it is the quality of the honey that makes or breaks the recipe.
Kokoraki Lollipops are a beloved Greek sweet
While the kids in the rest of the world were sucking on various-flavored lollipops, Greek kids hankered for red “kokkoraki” (roosters) lollipops.
An iconic red lollipop flattened out into a rooster shape, though other animals were also offered.
The staple, which was sold at every Greek fair, like “old lady’s hair” and pop-corn, was created by the Sotiriadis family of Greek lollipop-makers who made their way to Greece from Asia Minor in 1922.
Their first confectionery workshops were in Nikaia, Piraeus, but they later spread to other regions. By the eighties, they were churning out these lollipops and other children’s desserts including the dummy lollies (edible baby pacifier-shaped lollipops).
Astakos (lobster) Lollies
Back in the day, every Greek kid would sneak some astakos lollies in their pockets. A hit with youngsters, these hard lollies were filled with explosive surprises such as chocolate or coconut cream.
Children would suck on these delights for what seemed like ages. The goal was to get to the syrupy center and there were often mishaps as kids squished these oversized sweets in their mouths and ended up with sticky hair and syrup down the front of their clothes.
Tam Tam, the Greek cola
What better way to wash down all of the above than with Tam Tam, a very famous Greek fizzy drink which was extremely popular before the introduction of Coca Cola to the Greek market.
Produced by the Fix Brewery, this drink caught on and cinemas around the country would announce the intermission by stating, “A break for some Tam Tam.” The import of Coca Cola brought an end to the reign of Tam Tam.
Elon Musk’s personal net worth is currently larger than Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP). The businessman and engineer who is currently the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is currently worth $219.9 billion, while Greece’s GDP is $189.4 billion.
For a single individual to be worth more than any developed country is astounding, but to be worth more than contemporary Greece is no small feat.
Greece is classified by the International Monetary Fund as an advanced, high income economy, with its economy split between service (80%), industrial sectors (16%), and agriculture (4%). It is currently the sixteenth-largest economy in the European Union, which has a total of 27 members.
To put Musk’s monumental weight even more into perspective, Greece’s economy is also extraordinarily fast-growing, with the IMF also announcing last week that the nation’s economy is looking at a growth rate of 6.5% by the end of 2021.
The IMF detailed the country’s growth for 2021 in their global economic outlook report, where they also projected that Greece’s economy would grow by 4.6% in 2022.
The Fund predicts that the inflation rate will reach 1.3% by the end of the year and then drop down to 0.4% by 2022. They project that the unemployment rate will drop to 15.8% in 2021 and further down to 14.6% next year, both years down from 16.4% in 2020.
But the entire country of Greece seems to be outpaced by the profit Musk has made from his electric car and space exploration ventures, and some analysts are even predicting that the latter could make him the first trillionaire in history.
Elon Musk enters a new era as Tesla shares close at an all-time high on Friday
Musk seems to be entering the peak of his professional success with companies Tesla and SpaceX, and his personal wealth has climbed to new heights as a result. Tesla shares closed at an all time high of $909.68 on Friday, just two days after the company published its revenue and profits for Q3, which were also at a record high. Tesla’s market cap is approximately $860 billion.
The 50-year-old also took over the number one spot on the list of the world’s wealthiest people last month. Musk is the third person in history to have amassed a $200 billion fortune, according to Forbes.
While Musk has shot to the top spot in the world in private wealth largely due to his electric vehicle company Tesla, Morgan Stanley’s analyst believes that the future of his aerospace company SpaceX will bring Musk across the trillion dollar threshold.
SpaceX “is challenging any preconceived notion of what was possible and the time frame possible, in terms of rockets, launch vehicles and supporting infrastructure,” Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas wrote on Tuesday.
Jonas has confidence in SpaceX precisely because he sees the company as holding a multitude of companies inside one, containing space exploration, infrastructure, and Earth observation in one, as well as its Starlink satellite communications, which Jonas sees as the biggest player towards his $200 billion valuation of the company.
The CDC had previously recommended that people wait 14 days between receiving different vaccines, but has since revised their guidelines.
“Now that we have so much experience with these Covid-19vaccines, which we didn’t have when they were first introduced, we are quite comfortable saying it’s fine to give them with other vaccines,” Kelly Moore, the CEO of the Immunization Action Coalition said to The Washington Post.
Countries around the world are anticipating an increase in cases in the winter months, which could potentially be worsened by the loss of immunity that occurs naturally after receiving the first two doses of the vaccine.
There is no negative interference when getting a Covid-19 booster shot at the same time as a flu shot.
As of October 21, the CDC has made people who received Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines and are 65 years and older, 18 and older and live in long-term care settings, 18 and older and have underlying medical conditions, or 18 and older and work or live in high-risk settings eligible to receive a booster shot.
Experts across the world agree with CDC’s recommendation
Experts across the world are issuing advice that follows the CDC’s lead. Dr. Olivier Veran, the health minister for France, encouraged those eligible to receive their flu shots and booster shots to do so in a televised appearance on Friday:
“Already, 10 million doses are available in pharmacies, prioritized for the most vulnerable people,” Veran said. “This vaccination can be done at the same time as that against Covid.”
French people who meet the current standards for booster shots can get a booster shot in one arm and a flu shot in the other. France has currently made booster shots available to pregnant women, immunocompromised people, and people over the age of 65.
“This is the first winter when Covid-19 and seasonal flu are expected to be circulating together, putting more lives at risk,” said Dr. Mary Ramsay, the chief of immunization at the U.K. Health Security Agency. “Vaccinations are important to protect against both diseases.”
Since the pandemic began, Greece has confirmed a total of 700,959 infections. Of the confirmed cases of the last 7 days, 124 infections are related to travel from abroad and 2,144 to other confirmed cases.
There are also 29 deaths recorded on Tuesday, October 19, bringing the total of pandemic victims to 15,447. Of these, 95.3 percent had an underlying condition and/or were aged 70 or over.
A total of 356 patients are on ventilators in hospitals. Their median age is 66 years and 81.7 percent have an underlying condition and/or are aged 70 or over. Of the total, 312 (87.64 percent) are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated and 44 (12.36 percent) are fully vaccinated.
Another 3,253 have been discharged from ICUs since the pandemic began.
In addition, 192 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital this past Tuesday. The average admission of patients with Covid-19 to hospitals over the last 7 days was 208.
The median age of new infections is 39 years, while the median age of the deceased is 78 (range: 0.2 to 106 years).
A TikTok user was shocked to discover that her Amazon devices had stored thousands of files recording her voice. The video was posted towards the end of August and has amassed over 2 million views on the platform.
The user explains that she has three Amazon speakers in her house, two Dots and one Echo. She said that she had requested all of the data stored in her devices from Amazon, and was given a compressed file in which there were folders containing short audio files recorded by her speakers. She said there were approximately 3,534 audio files containing her voice.
The woman said that she also found a folder with the contacts from her phone, which she claimed to have no memory of syncing with her Amazon account.
“The very last thing that I didn’t know that they had, I could have assumed that they have but I don’t love that they have, is my location,” she said, explaining that the company had logged her location details as well.
Amazon says they are transparent about the Alexa app’s data collection
Amazon has responded to the viral video, explaining that they have been upfront about what data Alexa collects and have offered their customers the ability to control what is collected:
“We give customers transparency and control over their Alexa experience. Customers can easily review and delete their voice recordings, or choose not to have them saved at all, at any time.”
“Customers can import their mobile phone contacts to the Alexa app so they can use features like hands-free calling and messaging; this optional feature, which customers need to set up, can be disabled at any time.”
“Finally, you can grant permissions for the Alexa app to use certain data, such as your mobile device’s geolocation, to provide relevant results (e.g.’ weather, traffic, restaurant recommendations), and you can manage these permissions in the app.”
Amazon gives each of its customers the ability to gain access to their user data by going to the Request My Data page and choosing which information they want Amazon to send them.
Although Amazon claims they are transparent about their data collection practices, this is not the first time the company has been under fire for what users see as an invasion of privacy, specifically with voice recording.
In 2018, an Oregan woman discovered that her Amazon device was recording the conversations in her house and sending them by email to one of her contacts in Seattle.
“He had received audio files– recordings — from what was going on in our house,” she said to Seattle television station KIRO 7. “I felt invaded– like total privacy invasion.”
The woman said that she had installed Amazon speakers in each room of her house. After receiving the news from her friend that her device was sending him data, she immediately called Amazon and was told by an engineer that this was indeed taking place with her devices but that it was “extremely rare.”
Amazon sent KIRO 7 a statement saying that “Amazon takes privacy very seriously. We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.”
Archaeologists are studying ancient Greek shackled skeletons found at the ancient cemetery in 2016 in the port city of Faliro in order to understand the rise of the Athens city-state.
Faliro cemetery is one of the largest such site that has been excavated in Greece, as it contains more than 1,500 ancient Greek skeletons and dating to the 8th-5th centuries BC.
Skeletons of people with their hands shackled behind their backs in mass graves are considered important in understanding the policies of Athens at the time and how the city-state was established.
Excavations at the site revealed ancient Greek shackled skeletons
Excavations of the graveyard in Faliro started a century ago. But large-scale work was carried out between 2012-2016 by the Department of Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, led by archaeologist Stella Chrysoulaki.
Several ancient Greek skeletons were removed in blocks for future micro-excavation. Digitization of the archaeological field records, photographs, and maps has also been done. However, preservation and analysis has to be done by specialists in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology.
The report says the skeletons found were buried in a variety of ways. Most were interred in simple pit graves, but nearly one-third are infants and children buried in large jars. About 5 percent of the remains found are from cremations complete with funeral pyres, and there are a few stone-lined cist graves. One person was buried in a wooden boat used as a coffin.
The shackled skeletons have puzzled researchers as there are very few instances of shackled deaths in the ancient world and could indicate punishment, slavery, or a death sentence.
Examining and analyzing 1,500 skeletons by bioarchelogists and geoarchaelogists is a time-consuming and costly process and significant funding is needed.
The research team believes that the analysis of the skeletons can give us a window into a critical time in ancient Greek history, just before the rise of the city-state. The four main objectives following conservation of the skeletons:
1) To investigate the shackled and other deviant burials, including the individuals tossed into mass graves and decide whether they are a casualty of the political upheaval that preceded the rise of Athenian democracy.
2) To study the burials of children to learn more about infancy and childhood in the ancient world.
3) To learn more about people’s diet in this ancient city, and to find out if its inhabitants succumbed to diseases easily passed through sailors and other travelers from distant lands.
4) To go beyond the analysis of elite individuals buried with elaborate grave goods by focusing on the more simple burials, to shed light on all social classes of ancient Athens.
Heads of the Faliro Bioarchaeological Project are bioarchaeologist Jane Buikstra, founding director of the Center for Bioarchaeological Research at Arizona State University, and geoarchaeologist Panagiotis Karkanas, director of the Wiener Laboratory at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
Ferdinand Magellan had eight Greek sailors in his crew when the great Portuguese explorer circumnavigated the Earth for the first time in history.
In a new book entitled “Greek Sailors on the First Circumnavigation of the Earth”, author Pedro Olalla tells the story of the Greek seamen who joined Magellan on that ambitious journey.
It was about 500 years ago when the great explorer attempted the perilous expedition. In the only ship that managed to return three years later, some of the survivors were Greeks.
Among them was the navigator who brought it back to port and documented his unprecedented route which was a great leap for human history.
The Spanish philhellene author
Spanish Hellenist author Pedro Olalla (born in 1966) is a professor, filmmaker and photographer who has written several books on Greek modern and ancient history, culture and archaeology.
His literary and audiovisual works study and promote Greek culture. They are distinguished for the strong personal idiom of the creator, which is combined with literary, scientific and artistic elements.
He is also Knight of the Order of Civil Merit in Spain and Associate Member of the Center for Greek Studies at Harvard University.
In his current book, Olalla tells the unknown story of the Greek sailors who joined Magellan in the first circumnavigation of the Earth
The book also includes the text of the lecture that the Spanish Hellenist and author delivered in Greek at the historic “Lodge of Spain” for the Knights of St. John in Rhodes, on the occasion of the unveiling of the monument in honor of Greek sailors.
The Spanish embassy also published the log book of the expedition translated into three languages on the occasion of the unveiling of the monument.
The lecture was commissioned by the Spanish Embassy in Greece and the Cervantes Institute of Athens and was based on the research of Spanish and Greek historians.
The Greek sailors who explored with Magellan
On September 20, 1519, five ships departed from the Spanish port of Sanlucar de Barrameda for the most fascinating voyage in the history of the modern world.
The Portuguese seafarer Ferdinand Magellan embarked on an ambitious mission on behalf of Spain to discover a short route to the Spice Islands, along with 240 adventurous sailors.
Very few know that in the end of the first journey around the planet there were eight Greeks, and that the pilot of ‘Victoria’, the only ship that managed to return, was Greek.
His name was Francisco Albo and he was from Chios island. The log book he kept is one of the most valuable documents in the history of navigation.
Albo’s log book documents the voyage, the unknown places the seamen encountered, the unprecedented adventures they lived through as the first humans to cross all of the Earth’s meridians.
Magellan was killed by indigenous soldiers in the Philippines, but eighteen men returned alive, including five Greeks.
Nine Greek names are registered in the list of seafarers kept in the Seville Archives:
Miguel de Rodas, Felipe de Rodas, Miguel Sanchez de Rodas from Rhodes, Francisco Albo, Simone de Axio, Antonio de Axio from Chios, Nicolao Griego, Juan Griego from Nafplio and Matteo de Corfo from Corfu.
Eventually, eight Greek sailors boarded for the Magellan expedition, Olalla wrote. Francisco Albo, who returned ‘Victoria’ to Seville, was very important.
Albo, along with second-in-command of the expedition Juan Sebastian Elcano, appeared before Emperor Charles I of Spain to inform him of the success of the three-year voyage.
Among the Greeks sailors who joined Magellan, Miguel de Rodas was awarded the honor of Knight of the Order of St. James and Grand Pilot of His Majesty.
He was also commissioned to take on the secret chartography of the emperor and the responsibility of organizing the next missions to the New World.
The Greek contribution in nautical missions
“The contribution of the Greeks to the exploratory missions of that era is important”, Olalla wrote in his book.
The story of Greek presence on the island of Great Britain, the country we know today as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a tale of trading, entrepreneurship, religion, royalty and war.
It is a fascinating history which goes back in time to the Bronze Age, around four thousand years before our time.
Despite the fact that Great Britain is on the opposite end of the European continent from the nation of Greece, it has always been a place where Greeks had their own presence. For centuries their numbers were relatively small, but their influence was very significant throughout history.
The earliest known contacts between Greece and Britain
There is a wide archaeological consensus now that Bronze-Age Britain did have cultural, economic and trading links with the Mycenaean civilization of Greece.
Mycenaean axes, as well as other objects, such as the ”Rillaton Gold Cup” and the ”Pelynt Dagger” have been found in the south of England, more precisely in Cornwall, in the extreme southwestern corner of the island.
These relatively rare but incredibly significant archaeological findings have shown to researchers that the people of southern Britain did indeed have links with the Greeks of Mycenae around 1700 BC, at a time when any ties between such distant peoples seem unimaginable.
Yet somehow, the Mycenaean Greeks must have reached the southern shores of Britain, establishing various cultural and trading links with its inhabitants, and certainly shaping the way their everyday objects, such as cups used by Britain’s upper classes, were made.
Pytheas of Massalia
Pytheas of Massalia, a geographer from the Greek colony of Massalia, the modern-day city of Marseille in southern France, was the first Greek to have been known to visit Great Britain.
He was also the first-ever Mediterranean person to reach and explore the totality of Britain, including the wilds and coasts of what is now Ireland, in the early third century BC.
Pytheas is believed to be the man who first used the term ”Britain.”
In his work ”Periplous” (”Circumnavigation”), he is quoted using the term ”Bretannike,” which is Greek for Britannic.
This was a Greek transliteration of what some of the Celts who lived on the island during these years called their land: ”Ynys Prydein,” most likely from the Welsh for ”The island of Britain.”
Greeks arrived in Britain along with the Romans
It has always been known that the Romans managed to conquer most of the land in what is now Britain at the time of their Empire’s greatest extent, in the first century AD.
However, what is lesser known is that along with Romans, scores of Greeks arrived on the island as well, mainly as traders and soldiers.
The archaeological evidence of Greek presence in Britain during the Roman years comes from a number of gravestones and “curse tablets,” small tablet-shaped stones on which curses were written, asking gods or the deceased for action on a person or an object.
Currently, the Museum of London exhibits some of these fascinating tablets, where inscriptions in both Greek and Latin can be seen.
One of them is from someone called Demetrios, who dedicated something to two other men. His inscription, which was found under the railway station in today’s city of York, reads:
”ΩΚΕΑΝΟΙ ΚΑΙ ΤΗΘΥΙ ΔΕΜΗΤΡΙΟΣ,” which is Greek for ”Demetrios (dedicates this) to Oceanus and Tethys.”
Similar inscriptions have been found on tablets all over Great Britain, showing an important Greek presence on the island during the years of its Roman occupation.
The Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages, approximately between 500 AD and 1500 AD, a series of important Greek figures set foot in Britain, sometimes shaping the entire English nation with their work.
One of these individuals was Theodore of Tarsus, who served as the Archbishop of Canterbury from 668 to 690.
Theodore’s tenure as the leader of the Church of England had a profound effect on the country’s Christian institutions.
The very structure of the parishes and dioceses Theodore established in England are pretty much the same used to this very day, while his written works rooted Christianity deeply in this area of the world.
Apart from Theodore, other Greeks in Britain during the Middle Ages include two famous merchants, the brothers Andronikos and Alexios Effomatos, who lived in London in the 15th century.
They were granted royal permission to remain in London and engage in their business by King Henry VI, primarily due to the fact that the costly type of thread which they brought to Britain in trade was the finest in the land.
A significant number of Greeks also arrived in England to fight on the side of the English kings during the wars they frequently engaged in against the Scots as well as other groups.
These soldiers became known in Britain as the ”stratioti,” which is Greek for “soldier.”
Even some descendants of Emperor Constantine Palaeologus reached Britain following the fall of the Byzantine Empire, and they served the English crown for centuries as mercenary officers.
The First Greek Orthodox Church in Britain
Greeks had a real and undeniable presence in Britain during these centuries; however, individual Greeks on the island were few and far between and their numbers were not sufficient in any one place to form a community.
Over the years, a number of individuals, mainly wealthy Greeks, fled Ottoman-occupied Greece to avoid persecution, and one of their safe havens was England.
There are historical examples of how English parishes assisted Greeks who had come to Britain as refugees, trying to avoid the cruelty and oppression of the Ottomans, but up until the mid-17th century, no organized Greek Orthodox parish had existed in Britain.
The Duke of York, later King James II, welcomed approximately a thousand families from different Greek islands in Britain in the 1600’s.
He then offered them lands in what is now known as Soho and “Greek Street” in London, where they settled in and began to flourish.
Greek families from Samos and Melos as well as other islands were now firmly established in the British capital, forming the first organized Greek community of Britain.
The very first Greek Orthodox Church in Britain was built in London in 1677. Dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin, the inscription on its cornerstone states that the church “was founded for the nation of the Greeks, in the reign of Most Serene King Jacob II.”
Greeks also established a notable community in the university town of Oxford, whose ”Worcester College” became known as the ”Greek College” due to the large number of its Greek students.
The modern era
The Greek War of Independence in the 1820s, coupled with the complete commercial dominance of the British Empire, caused many Greeks move to Britain in the 1800s.
Traders, merchants, shipowners and other businessmen upped stakes and moved permanently to the island, where their businesses prospered greatly.
Greek schools were created, more Orthodox Christian churches were built and communities were being established even in far-flung locales such as Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and elsewhere.
Communities in London were expanding as well, and by 1877 the community was large enough to allow for the construction of a great Greek Orthodox cathedral in London, the Cathedral of Saint Sophia.
After the British Empire took control of Cyprus in the late 19th century, thousands of Greek Cypriots, now legally members of the Empire themselves, moved to Britain, joining the already-existing Greek communities and forming their own.
Although Greeks are a small fraction of the more than 3.2 million EU nationals who currently live in Britain, their presence remains distinctive and deeply rooted in British society.
Currently, approximately 60,000 Greek nationals live in Britain, most of whom are university students and professionals in the health, education and business sectors.
However, more than 400,000 people who currently live in Britain have ethnic Greek origins, despite most of them now being British citizens.
One of these is Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.
All these people are the living evidence of the fascinating story of Greek and British ties, which goes back in time to the very beginnings of the ancient Greek world.