Monday, February 14, 2011

♥ Happy Valentine's Day♥ ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΠΟΛΛΑ ΣΕ ΟΛΟΥΣ♥

The sweetest words in the world
Mum and Dad...I Love you 
.... with a little bit of help from Lacta and 
the lovely Lacta ladies at Athens' The Mall yesterday 
where we enjoyed a concert with Myronas Stratis courtesy of MTV!

 The delicious chocolate shown above and the tray of muffins below (healthy ones I might add - just ask for the recipe) which our daughter decided to make for us yesterday with a lot of love, but most of all the gift of bearer-entitled endless hugs and kisses, unlimited and unconditional love and affection which she gives us everyday of her young life, were our daughter's Valentine Day gift to us...


14 February today and the calendar says Valentine's Day.

Officially, it is the day for celebrating with lovers, but we prefer to think of it as the day for celebrating with all those we love - not just sweethearts and spouses, but also siblings, parents, grandparents and children and of course wonderful friends - whoever we want to include in that special circle of loved ones. 

Officially it is the day we tell our loved ones we love them, but we shouldn't have to wait for Valentine's Day to do that...we should be telling them that every day, with words or with our actions!

We couldn't resist sharing these lovely photos from the display at one of our local florists - the Athenian store vitrines are full of exotic displays showing how much time and effort has been put into keeping up with the spirit of the day, despite the economic crisis,or maybe even because of it! 

Heaven for florists, jewellers, greeting card stores and pastry shops (zaharoplasteia) all over the world for many many years, in Greece Valentine's Day is a relatively recent 'import' and has only really been inducted into the national eortologio over the last 15 - 20 years. 

The celebration in Greece has an added 'religious' dimension to it - it is referred to as Aghiou Valentinou, Saint Valentine's Day, in keeping with all the rest of the eortes! 

In the rest of the world the day is referred to simply as Valentine's Day...

Most of you will know that Greece and Greek Mythology gave the world the God Eros, whose Latin counterpart was Cupid of course. What you may not know is that in Greece, and particularly in Anogia in Crete, they hold their own celebration of love and lovers on the 3rd July each year, the feast day of the Orthodox Saint Valentine, Agios Yakinthos, or Saint Hyacinth, the patron saint of love, youth and lovers, who was born in 98 AD in Caesaria in Ancient Cappadocia-the same place Aghios Vassilis came from - and was martyred at 20 for his Christian faith. 

Greek mythology also gives us  a Hyacinth, the young and handsome Prince of Sparta who lost his life because of jealousy. Legend has it that Hyacinth’s friendship was contested by Apollo, god of fire and music, and Zephyr, god of the West Wind. 

One day when Hyacinth was throwing the discus with Apollo, Zephyr became jealous because he preferred Apollo’s company, and made the west winds blow the discus back at Hyacinth, striking and killing him. 

From the blood of the young man sprang the beautiful flower we know as the hyacinth.

This song by Alkinoos Ioannides talks about Yakinthos and his special relationship with Crete... 

Ο Άγιος Υάκινθος ξυπνάει τα μεσημέρια
παίρνει την Κρήτη στα φτερά, τον έρωτα στα χέρια
κατηφορίζει το βουνό το μονοπάτι παίρνει
και ο ήλιος μόλις τον κοιτά χαμογελά και γέρνει

Ο Άγιος Υάκινθος ανοίγει παραθύρια
σμίγει τα στήθια τα κορμιά και χτίζει τα γιοφύρια
ν' αγαπηθούν οι άνθρωποι να ομορφύνει ο κόσμος
ν' ανθίσει ο βασιλικός η ρίγανη κι ο δυόσμος

Ο Άγιος Υάκινθος ξυπνάει στον Ψηλορείτη
να 'ρχότανε να πέρναγε κι απ 'το δικό σου σπίτι
να σου'φερνε να σου'λεγε των δέντρων τον έρωτά του
να ξύπναγες απ'την αρχή να 'ρχόσουνα κοντά του...

Cynics say Valentine's Day is just an excuse for more commercialism...  maybe it is,
but does it really matter? It is up to each of us to celebrate as we want to.

Whichever day YOU decide to celebrate love, seize the moment, take the opportunity offered to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you!

 You don't have to go to extremes, you don't have to buy out the entire shop of roses or chocolates, just show them that they are important in your life -a smile, a kiss or a hug is usually more than enough!

We all need to feel we are loved, so do that everyday if you can...and if you can't, well,  today's the day! Our wish to you is simple, love and be loved! :)

PS To read more about St Yakinthos, click here
PPS And because you is the recipe our daughter used for the Valentines Day Muffins... we had previously played around with a recipe I had from our primary school cooking class days to get to this, you can too...
2 cups wholemeal flour,2 tsp cinnamon powder,1 tsp nutmeg powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 2tsp vanilla powder,
1 cup brown sugar, 3 eggs, 1 cup olive oil, 
1 cup walnuts (roughly chopped), 1.5 cups grated granny smith apple, 1 cup coconut (shredded), 1.5 cups finely grated carrot, 1 cup sultanas/raisins
White chocolate pieces (stagones) to taste - we used 150 g
Beat oil in mixer for 15-20 mins with sugar, add eggs and continue beating for a few more minutes. During the beating phase, prepare the dry ingredients : sift flour, nutmeg,  cinnamon powder, vanilla and baking powder together, then add carrot, apple, sultanas, coconut and walnuts and mix together. Add the creamed mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until evenly blended together. Add white chocolate pieces at the end and divide evenly into muffin cases or lined muffin pan. 
Bake in oven which has been preheated to 200 and then lowered to 180, for around 30 minutes or until muffins are a nice golden brown. Don't overcook, they come out beautifully moist and not too sweet...
You can decorate with a sprinkling of icing sugar or a chocolate heart... our princess decided that she is going to put them in heart shaped muffin pans next year...
Καλή Ορεξη! Bon appetit! Happy eating!

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