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Newsletter Archive > January 2008

Newsletter Archive

submitted by James Victor Prineas on 23.03.2009

January 2008

Kytherian Christmas

Dear Friends of Kythera,

have you ever wondered about what it would be like to spend Winter and Christmas on Kythera? Two new "blogs" from Anna Cominos gives you a taste of it - you can read them below.

For those of you in Sydney: my family and I are visiting Australia and will be around Sydney in the first week in January. It would be lovely to catch up with many of you users, whether we've met or not. I'm planning a dinner for us all in a restaurant (still to be named) in Sydney on or about the evening of the 5th of January. If you'd like to join us - no set cost but everyone will pay their own way - send me a mail with the dates which would suit you (3rd, 4th or 5th) and I'll let you know the details when they've been decided upon. For those of you to far away, I hope to see you on the island sometime between May and August, when my family and I will be taking leave from the rat race and immersing ourselves in all things Kytherian.

Hoping you've had a wonderful Christmas and wishing you all a joyful 2008!

James Prineas

By the way, one of my favourite christmas presents was a book by fellow-kytherian Harris George of Baltimore, USA. Although some of the most endearing tales relate to his family and the island (see the excerpt at the bottom of this mail), the other pieces touching his army service and career at the bar are entertaining and educational. A must-have for all Diaspora Kytherians!

(By George is available online from Itasca Books Distribution,, subject Biography (direct link to the book North American buyers can call Itasca at 800-901-3480.  The web store is always the preferable route. Anyone wishing to purchase the book for resale can use Itasca’s email address: for reseller inquiries.  There is a 40% discount on 5+ copies, plus postage. )

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>52 weeks in Tsirigo – Week 3
by Anna Cominos

The island is gripped with ‘Yiortes’ fever. As lead into the sobriety of Christmas Day, and the upside of Greek Orthodoxy (faithfully practised by few) is the string of Saints Days like Ayiou (Saint Andrea), Ayiou Nicholas and of course Agia Annis (Annas not anas ok). As I am not christened Anna, (I am actually christened Theano, which becomes Theanoula, Annoula, Anna – it’s all very Chekov) I still had to shout ouzo & mezedes in the Potamos Plateia on Sunday. At one stage there were about 10 of us. And Ilia-the-bbq-octopus-guy couldn’t keep up with the octopus plokamia (tendons).

While the party revs up (the island now has its own transvestite bar-woman) there seems to be a dullness amongst the thinkers & dreamers. The hotbed of philosophical exchange this Winter is the renowned "Lily’s" in Potamos, a tiny café with startling red lounge chairs and a massive wooden table for all to sit at and converse. Australian–born Lily makes the best cappuccinos on K and her cakes and crepes are scrumptious….what I am trying to say the place has attitude and so do you if you hang-out there. Anyway I ran into local composer Panayiotis Lefteris (who in Sept release his CD Sinaxis – and he seems to be going through a writer’s block as is internationally exhibiting artist Daphne Petrohilos. What to do if you can’t do???? Party?????

I have enrolled in the Organic Farming course at the newly re-opening Agricultural School of Karavas. We have been sitting for our mid-term exams, but I haven’t really fretted 'cos I have a healthy dose of anestisia (carelessness) and I am doing the course for practical reasons though I am proud to say I got 19/20 in Organic Farming. But Italian well…….

The reason I write about my endeavours into further education is that we also do a subject called Ecology and have been approaching local businesses about using cloth bags if we source at best wholesale prices and guess what….they are keen. So ask for them next summer.

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>52 weeks in Tsirigo – Week 4
>Christmas in Kythera
by Anna Cominos
The days leading into Christmas day have been divine; winter-warm and windless. Most people have finished with the olive-picking for this season and the Olive-Presses will only open sporadically after the Yiortes (holidays). Everyone has been busy, the cooks in the kitchen, men cutting wood and children everywhere singing Carols.

Hoards of chirpy school-kids bellow out Christmas Carols in the mornings leading-up to Christmas Day. Doing the rounds of houses and businesses alike armed with clangy triangles and Christmas paper covered shoes boxes dressed-up as donation boxes, has long been a local (fund-raising) tradition.

In the past the Yimnaseio (High School) Lykeio (Senior High) have used this ‘merry way’ to raise funds for their 5 day excursion to other parts of Greece. In 2007 the phenomena of Christmas Carolling has come to reflect the ‘run & grab’ ethos of Free Marketing,with classes breaking-up into twos and threes…. suddenly it felt you couldn’t escape the blighters. And for superstitious reason you have to give each time so your New Year goes well.

Children’s performances created more controversy when Ecclesiasts waited for a Christmas Pantomime featuring kalikatsarous (mischief goblins) to end before bestowing Christmas blessings on the pre-schoolers.

While the excesses of modernisation/consumerism are now visible in Kythera, such as the amount of Christmas lights which adorn the houses, the gathering of family and neighbours around wintery olive-wood stoked fireplaces eating freshly picked wild mushrooms and drinking home-made wine is still thankfully a typical Yiortes (holidays) treat.

Ps Calamari season has begun with the Prince (Panayiotis Efthmiou) dragging in a whopper at 1.8kgs. It looked like an extra from the Muppets......See you in the New Year…….Kali Hronia.

Annoula Cominos
Feature Writer/ Kythera Summer Edition
Agia Pelagia/ Kythera 80200/Greece

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>A quote from a letter which is reproduced in "By George" (see the PS in the newsletter).

Dad [Dimitri, (James) Kourvoulis Tzortzopoulos (George)], read a second time, the letter from his brother, Peter.

Dearest Dimitri, 

The news from Kythera is good. With the monies you have provided from America, your sisters were given adequate dowries, and they have both now married. Your older sister Eleni married Panayiotis Diakos, a Kytherian who settled several years ago in Australia, where he owns his own restaurant. They left for Australia last month. Stavroula married Michael Vretos, who owns a farm in the valley, which he is planning to sell so that he can come to America. He has a brother who is a furrier in Youngstown, Ohio.

But your cousin Meropi, whose parents died and who I have been raising for seven years, has caused me great anguish. I had arranged that she should marry Gregory Stavros. He is a nice man who, with his brother, runs the general store in Karava. But Meropi has always been the rebellious one. She complained that Gregory Stavros was too old, and she ran off with George Mavroyioryis, barely a year older than she. They went to St. Theodore, where they were secretly married. Meropi and George will soon be leaving Kythera to join his brother who owns a flower shop in Alexandria, Egypt. 

The past Sunday, all of Karava celebrated the birthday of Aunt Antonia, who, at one hundred seven, is the oldest person in the village. Vain woman, she insists that she is only one hundred five, and that the baptismal certificate at St. Charalampos is incorrect. Of course, no one is alive who can contradict her. Anyway, whether one hundred seven or one hundred five, she is a remarkable woman. 

You have made us all so very proud by your accomplishments in America. Truly, God has blessed that land. An orphan boy, you went to a country of foreigners. You learned their language. You became a citizen. You established your own business. Now, you even own a piece of land of America. Here, on Kythera, we talk a lot about the countries to which our families have immigrated. We talk about Africa, Australia and America. 

We talk most about America. Some say that the country is so rich that the streets are paved with gold. I find this difficult to believe, but, with what you have been able to accomplish in so short a time, I don’t know. 

I do know, however, that Kythera is dying. The island is all rock, no soil for farms to produce food. The vast majority of our young people are leaving the island to find opportunity elsewhere. Who can blame them? If they stay, what can they become? One need look only at our own family -- you (and soon your sister Stavroula will) have settled in America. Cousin Merope will be settling in Egypt, and your sister Eleni has already left for Australia. I alone remain in Kythera.

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