Usually the term "vlachos" for someone from Southern Greece means a person from a village or a sheep-herder, but the people of Northern Greece recognize the term "vlachoi" as the previously-nomadic group of people that live near Grevena and in Thessaly. Vlachoi have their own traditions and even their own language. Yet, they consider themselves Greek and, of course, speak Greek, too. The question historians have been researching is: Where did they come from?
First of all, there are Vlachoi in Greece, in Romania, in Albania and in FYROM. The ones in Greece were given the name "Koutsovlachoi" from a misinterpretation of the Turkish word for"Little Vlachia," which is what the Turks called the area of Thessaly during the occupation, as opposed to "Big Vlachia," which was the area around the Danube River. Vlachoi call themselves "Armani" in their dialect, which comes from the Byzantine and Roman times, and it was the name given to those who spoke latin in the eastern empire. The word Vlachos,is thought to have come from the Slavic word Vlah (which meant foreigner) or the German word Walechen (which means non-German, Latin).
Location, location, location
Today, most Vlachoi live in Thessaly and Northern Greece. They were nomads and herd-keepers, some of whom turned into wealthy merchants. For these people the most important thing was keeping their herds of sheep well-fed, so that their families could live well. This is why they grazed the mountainous villages of Northern Greece in the summer and in winter they started looking for new "virgin" land for their herd to graze. Therefore, at the end of summer, they packed everything up and made the week or month-long trip down to the fields of Thessaly, where they eventually established other villages. When the temperatures started rising again, they would head up to the mountain once more.
Language and Descent
Where Vlachoi come from is a question whose answer has been much sought after by modern sociologists in the Balkans, but none seem to have reached a satisfying answer.....
Midas - The king of Phyrgia in Asia Minor once treated a lost satyr companion of the god Dionysios with care and hospitality. In return, the god allowed him one wish and Midas wished for a golden touch; he wanted everything that he touched to turn to gold. However, the king soon discovered that this ability was more of a curse, because he couldn't eat, as his food turned to gold the second he touched it. To end his torture, the god told him to bathe in the river Paktolos, whose sands drained him of his power and they turned into gold.
Cecrops - He was the first king of Athens, he was born from the Earth herself and is represented as half man, half serpent. He is said to have taught the Athenians to worship the gods and he was the king that the gods Poseidon and Athena tried to impress, when deciding who would be the protector of the city. Athena presented the olive tree and Posidon presented a spring of (salt) water. Cecrops chose the olive tree, therefore granting Athena the protection of Athens.
(Mis)Educated: 82 European universities made it in list of the best 200 universities worldwide for 2010, as they are evaluated and listed annually by the Times Higher Education of the UK Times(http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/), but none of those were Greek. Harvard University is first on the list for yet another year, whereas the rest of the top 10 is comprised of American and two British universities. Thirteen countries from Europe find themselves on the list, but Italy and Greece, two countries with unparalleled academic history, are missing. Quality of education, number of publications, research, and motives for both professors and students were all taken into account when completing the list.
So Greek parents find themselves paying thousands in frontistiria annually, students' minds clog with useless information, and all their struggle at national exams, only in hopes of getting into some of Europe's worst academic institutions... Hmmm... Why is it that American universities in Greece are considered lower in quality than public Greek universities, again?
Childless: Greece and the rest of Southern Europe is growing old. Women keep putting off motherhood until they've completed other "cycles" of their lives...
October 28th, 1940, otherwise known as "Oxi" day. It's sad that today most of us don't even know which of the two national holidays have to do with the Italians and which one with the Turks. Well, let me remind you that this date has to do with the Italians, and WWII... and do you happen to remember that the great man (Ioannis Metaksas) who said OXI was a dictator of Greece at the time? Ok... let's back up a bit...
Metaksas and the coming of the "Third Greek Culture"
In 1936, a weak King George of Greece, allowed army General Ioannis Metaksas, the leader of a far-right political party that had the least supporters nationwide, to take control in containing the communists and their socialist ways in the labor force. Metaksas was another one of those dictators who wanted to control his fellow patriots by reminding them of their "Greekness." This was to be done by instilling in them the values of Ancient Greece (especially the strict citizens' control of Sparta) and the Christian morals of the Byzantine Empire, all under the label of "The Third Greek Culture"; something like Hitler's Third Reich. Although his opponents charged him with a Nazi profile, he supposedly hushed them by spreading fear and not by literally "eliminating" them. He was also unwilling to turn his back on Britain's support and even asked to become Britain's ally in 1936 (which Britain denied, fearing a new set of responsibilities towards Greece).
Sacred texts show that the story of a flood wiping out all of corrupt humanity is essential in a civilization's history. Just as the Sumerians and the Jews/Christians have a flood story in their history (bordering on mythology), so did the ancient Greeks. The Sumerians had Atrahasi build a boat as instructed by the god Enki, the Jews had Noa build an ark as instructed by God and the Greeks had Defkalyon build a boat as instructed by his immortal Titan father, Prometheus. And all of this happened to destroy the majority of mankind. But first, lets see the story of its creation...
The 3 Ages of Man and Their Creation
When the titan god Kronos reigned, he created a race of mankind - this is the first and golden age - which was happy and good. No one worked and they all lived on the earth in harmony (does this remind anyone else of the Garden of Eden?). When they died, they roamed the earth as daimones or spirits. However, this age ended when Kronos died and Zeus took over.
The second age is known as the silver age, during which Prometheus was instructed by Zeus to create the next "batch" of men, who were uglier and inferior in intelligence. The four seasons were created and men had to seek shelter and grow food.
The third age is the bronze age and this is the time of naturally-born humans, descendants of the silver age humans and nymphs. The problem with the bronze age humans is that they started to get greedy, corrupt and impious, failing to honor the gods. This angered Zeus, who decided to destroy them with a flood that would cover the earth.
Back when the world population was approximately 5 million, it seems like a few of them were living in the area Apsalos of Pella in northern Greece. Archaeologists have recently discovered stone tools, and clay objects, which date back to 7937 B.C. attesting to an early settlement that has come to verify that people did actually inhabit this part of the world during the mesolithic period. This was a period when the people of Eurasia and Africa were just starting to adopt agriculture and domesticate some animals.
The stereotypical stone age imagery, of a caveman hunting, is not what typically pops in our minds when we think of Greece's history, but settlements existed here way before the glory of Ancient Greece, Socrates and Plato.
Man's time on earth is separated into different periods, the longest of which is the Stone Age (Paleolithic Period), which begins approximately 2.5 million years ago and ends around 3000 B.C. in Europe. This long period, which represents 99% of man's total time on earth so far, is also separated into three phases: Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic.
Minister of Education Anna Diamantopoulou is showing just how serious she is with banning colleges that failed to comply with the rules set forth by the government, by shutting down the Hellenic American University and the American University of Athens yesterday. Both colleges operate under licenses issued in New Hampshire and Alabama respectively, however, they failed to received a license to operate as a Center of Post-Lyceum Education (and be considered legitimate private colleges) from the Greek government when licenses were issued earlier this summer.
In the ongoing struggle and chaos that characterizes the secondary education system in Greece, the country has been forced to accept the existence of private colleges in the country and has been working on incorporating them into the official education system. Maintaining that public Greek universities are the only institutions that can be called "universities," all of the foreign private universities and colleges operating in the country have now been renamed Centers of Post-Lyceum Education, which pretty much places them at the level of a 2-year technical school with a degree that's worth as much. This all stands for Greece. The majority of these private colleges/universities issue degrees that are recognized in the US and Europe as what they claim (Bachelors, Masters).