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As we are spending Christmas with some friends here in Crete, I can do no better than give you this delicious post from Letter from Athens about a traditional Greek Christmas.

In the Greek Orthodox tradition, Christmas ranks second to Easter, but it is still a very important holiday. For the devout it is preceded by a period of fasting so food, unsurprisingly, plays a major role in the festivities. But more of that later.

In Greece, Santa Klaus or Father Christmas is Agios Vasilios (Saint Basil) – so gifts are opened on his name day, January first.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day children go from house to house singing the Kalanda (carols whose name comes from the Roman calendar, the first days of the month) and accompanying themselves on small metal triangles and sometimes harmonicas. They knock on doors asking ‘Na ta poume?’ – ‘Shall we say them?’ They are rewarded with money, sweets and sometimes dried figs and other fruit. Then the householders wish them ‘Kai tou xronou’ – ‘Again next year’. They will do the same on New Year’s Eve and…

Source: A Greek Christmas | Letters from Athens

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One from the archive, an article about the artist John Craxton, taken from the New Statesman.

First Night Design

via The world of private mystery in John Craxton’s paintings.

Islands of edgy light: Galatas (1947)Islands of edgy light: Galatas (1947)

They may not like it but it is the fate of artists, as with all interesting creatures, to be labelled. John Craxton, a friend of Graham Sutherland, Paul Nash and John Piper, has duly been filed under “neo-Romantic”. These were the painters who in the years before the Second World War rediscovered the mystical work of Samuel Palmer and William Blake and reacted to the lowering mood of the times by conjuring up a British Eden of shepherds and overgrown green lanes among billowing hills that could be pulled close like an eiderdown. Craxton refuted the label, but grudgingly accepted a more accurate one: “Arcadian”.

Dark and fecund lands: Llanthony Abbey (1942)Dark and fecund lands: Llanthony Abbey (1942)

This separation from his fellows was not just a question of taxonomy. From 1946 he lived largely in Greece, a place…

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via The world of private mystery in John Craxton’s paintings.

They may not like it but it is the fate of artists, as with all interesting creatures, to be labelled. John Craxton, a friend of Graham Sutherland, Paul Nash and John Piper, has duly been filed under “neo-Romantic”. These were the painters who in the years before the Second World War rediscovered the mystical work of Samuel Palmer and William Blake and reacted to the lowering mood of the times by conjuring up a British Eden of shepherds and overgrown green lanes among billowing hills that could be pulled close like an eiderdown. Craxton refuted the label, but grudgingly accepted a more accurate one: “Arcadian”.

This separation from his fellows was not just a question of taxonomy. From 1946 he lived largely in Greece, a place where, he wrote, “I find it’s possible to feel a real person – real people, real elements, real windows – real sun above all. In a life of reality my imagination really works. I feel like an émigré in London and squashed FLAT.” But in finding an authentic Arcadia in Crete he also distanced himself from the art and artists of the postwar world and so slipped out of the story. “A World of Private Mystery: John Craxton RA (1922-2009)”, a small but choice exhibition at the Fitzwilliam, is an overview and reminder of the career of this unfashionably joyous painter.

Read more…

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Mosque of the Janissaries

Mosque of the Janissaries

The perfect binder to keep all your travel plans in one place!  This is a digital painting of the mosque in the Venetian Harbour in Chania, Crete.  It is one of the oldest surviving buildings from the time of the Ottoman Empire and was built in 1645.  Worship took place in the mosque until 1923 when the Muslims left the island in an exchange between Greece and Turkey.  Janissaries is the Turkish word for ‘new troops’, men who were recruited, ironically, from the non-Muslim fraternity and worked as household troops and bodyguards of the sultan. Once containing the Chania museum, in recent years the mosque has been hosting small art exhibitions.

Take care and keep laughing!
Sarah

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