Home Church & Religion GOA Seminar Educates Greek Language Educators on Greek Customs Teaching Methods

GOA Seminar Educates Greek Language Educators on Greek Customs Teaching Methods

Photos by Catherine Tsounis

NEW YORK, NY – by Catherine Tsounis

 “The Office of Greek Education is organizing the second seminar in a series of eight educational events. This seminar, which is the second in the series, will explore innovative teaching methods and different ways of teaching, with a focus on religion, customs, and the traditions of the Holy Twelve Days (Christmas – New Year – Lights)” said Dr. Anastasios Koularmanis, Director of Greek Education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. An interactive Zoom seminar that was broadcasted across America, featured Dr. Angeliki Mastromihalaki. Her colleagues assisted in the presentation. Mrs. Athena Kromidas, President of the High Council for Greek Education in the U.S, welcomed and congratulated Dr. Angeliki Mastromihalaki and colleagues on the presentation.

A point made was the difference between St. Basil’s Day when gifts are presented to children and St. Nicholas, modern Santa Claus, at Christmas. “This is our Greek Orthodox heritage that must be remembered,” said Dr. Mastromihalaki. The Greek, affluent cites of Asia Minor (Western Anatolia) have been wiped out. They are remembered in customs such as St. Basil’s vasilopita and his bringing gifts to children.

Who was St. Basil? He was not a politician as our American leaders. He gave away his wealth to help his community. He was made Bishop of Cappadocia in Caesarea and was the first to establish orphanages, hospitals, and age-care homes. St. Basil did not get any write offs on income tax or was glorified by public relations companies. He was a kind person who used his influence and wealth to help all, without any strings attached. This all began in the Byzantine Empire that lasted over one thousand years.

During a catastrophic depression, the emperor put an excessive tax on the people of Caesarea. To avoid prison, the people had to hand over whatever they had: coins and jewelry. St Basil, on learning of this injustice, came to his people’s defense. The emperor repented of his deed and instructed the tax collectors to hand over all the wealth to St Basil. 

Faced with the dilemma of not knowing who contributed what, St Basil returned each person their valuables by having them baked into a huge ‘pita.’ After the Divine Liturgy, he blessed the pita, and each person’s slice miraculously contained the money or jewels they had contributed. In remembrance of this miracle, Orthodox Christians bake the Vasilopita on St Basil’s feast day, January 1st, the date on which he reposed.

Teaching methodology, theater, Music, creative projects were explained by Dr. Mastromihalaki in the instruction of Greek Orthodox 12 Days of Christmas curriculum.

For more information, contact Director Dr. Anastasios Koularmanis at [email protected]