The guide to the Eugenides Foundation’s Planetarium states: “The planetarium […] became an excellent way for millions of people to learn things they believed were beyond their learning abilities, for older generations to share their knowledge with younger ones and for experts to come into contact with the layman.” This incredible opportunity provided by the Planetarium makes it a modern scientific centre for everyone, a simple, accessible and entirely comprehensible vehicle for everyone, young and old, to explore the wonders of the universe and of the world we live in.
A journey through space
Thanks to the Planetarium’s enormous dome (25 metres in diameter with a surface area of 950 square metres) visitors can explore the life of the cosmos, understand our solar system and the universe beyond, discover hidden worlds, learn about the dinosaurs (their life and disappearance), meteor showers and the Northern Lights, asteroids and comets. The Planetarium’s programme is constantly being renewed and enriched with new shows and presentations, which are shown every morning Monday through Sunday (9:30 a.m. on weekdays and 10:30 a.m. on weekends) as well as afternoons and evenings (the last show is usually around 8:30 p.m.). These presentations are suitable for children age 5 and above – with suggested age limits established so that the presentations are clearly understandable.
New show: Polaris. The Space Submarine and the Mystery of the Polar Night
A penguin and a polar bear meet on the Arctic ice and become friends as they endeavor to unravel the mystery of “why polar nights are so long”. A charming story offering knowledge and entertainment for both children and adults. If you have kids, this is a must.
Theophany, “Epiphany” or the “Festival of Lights” as it is known to most Christians, underlines the triunal nature of our Orthodox faith and celebrates the manifestation of the three aspects of the Holy Trinity in one substance, in the one and only God. Theophany (Epiphany) is truly special within the calendar of Christian feast days, celebrating the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, an event which represents both repentance and the appearance of God on earth.
The traditions and rituals of Epiphany
On Theophany morning, both children and adults in rural towns and villages sing the Epiphany carols as a way to announce this blessed event. This festival is celebrated with great joy throughout the eastern Church and is marked by age-old religious rites and rituals, which take place both within and outside the churches – always close to the water: by the open sea, by lakes, harbors, in urban cisterns or by the running waters of mountain rivers and streams. Two of the most important of these rituals are the blessing of the Holy Water inside the church and the Blessing of the Waters and the immersion of the True Cross outside – an event attended by all of the religious and political leaders. In most regions of the country people of all ages (usually men and boys, but occasionally girls as well) dive into the cold waters after the cross is thrown in by the priest, and the one who retrieves the cross is considered to have gained good luck for the rest of the year. In some rural villages, moreover, the lucky person carries the cross through the town from house to house, giving and receiving blessings along the way.
Theophany in Athens and Piraeus
The most impressive celebration of Theophany takes place at the largest harbor in Greece – in Piraeus, in front of the Church of St. Spyridon. The Archbishop of Athens and all of Greece usually presides, accompanied by the Bishop of Piraeus, the city’s Mayor and thousands of priests, politicians and the civilian faithful, who throng the crowded piers of the harbor or watch from boats floating nearby. The moment the cross hits the water, all the boats in the harbor sound their sirens and bells, and this joyful sound carries for miles. And if you want to take part in this celebration, you should find a place on the pier around 10 a.m. – while the plunge for the cross takes place at around 11 a.m.
In Athens itself the Blessing of the Waters takes place in the Kolonaki neighborhood, at the foot of Mt. Lykabettus at Dexameni (The Old Cistern) as well as at the swimming pool of the National Gymnastics Association at #6 Vas. Olgas Street between the old marble stadium and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. These two events are held about an hour apart, so with a little careful planning (and a very pleasant walk), one could attend both. The Church service for the Theophany in Athens is held at the Church of St. Dionysios Areopagus on Skoufa Street in Kolonaki. For the Athens celebration of the Blessing of the Waters, it is best to be at Dexameni Square by 10 a.m.
The sweetest Christmas sweet, the one dripping with honey, the most guilt-free sweet made with olive oil, honey and walnuts, may also be the most difficult to make to our liking. Perhaps because the olive oil has to be top quality, the honey aromatic and the walnuts crunchy. Or perhaps because no one can match the mouth-watering melomakarona our grandmother used to make. Their Christmas cousin, the kourabies, is also held to high standards. It must not stick to the roof of the mouth; it should be light and crispy, with just a scent of butter but not so you can taste it; in short, it should be rich in flavour, in aroma and in ingredients.
Two old-fashioned sweets
It is possible that the kourabies, like many other specialities of Greek cuisine, came from Asia Minor along with the Greek refugees who hid their rich cultural heritage in what little baggage they could carry. In many parts of Greece, kourabiedes (plural) or some version of them are served throughout the year, particularly at weddings and christenings. The name is borrowed from the Turkish word kurabiye, which may have come from the Persian word gülābiye; it contains the root words gül and ab, meaning rose and water - rosewater. Still, the internet offers a number of other suggestions for the word’s origins. No matter which explanation you accept, one thing is for certain: the kourabies symbolises the Christmas holidays, with a generous sprinkling of icing sugar and childhood memories.
The word melomakarono, on the other hand, sounds like it would be associated with honey (“meli”) and macaroni, but the latter at least is highly unlikely. The likelier explanation is that it derives from the word “macaron”, a French sweet that is known as “macaroon” in English, and first appears in 16th century cooking references. This word, together with the honey that is characteristic of this pastry, probably came into use much later, in the late 19th century. In many parts of Greece, melomakarona (pl.) are also called foinikia, or chourmades (dates), because they resemble them in shape and sweetness. For some, the word melomakarono comes from the psychopitta made for All Souls’ Day, and the ancient Greek word “makaria”, meaning blessed, a sweet that became a melomakarono after it was dipped in honey. Nevertheless, the French macaron or the Italian maccheroni/macaroni sounds sweeter and more uplifting.
Melomakarona, kourabiedes and plenty of Yule logs on the Athenaeum InterContinental’s Christmas menu
The traditional Greek melomakarona and kourabiedes, chocolate Yule logs, syrup-soaked pastries, sweets with chestnuts, fruit and cream, gourmet or classic - no matter what you most enjoy or how you like it, the Athenaeum InterContinental Athens is preparing a wide selection of sweets and irresistible flavours just for you. Set aside any guilty feelings and enjoy!
10 am to 10 pm. 1 December to 7 January. For children and the young at heart, there is a factory unlike any other. It’s a factory that makes Christmas come alive, warms the heart and puts a smile on everyone’s face. The Christmas Factory at Technopolis in Gazi. Buy your ticket and start your tour. One day may not be enough.
School of Magic for renowned magicians
Those brave enough to venture into the world of magic can try their hand at the magical space with a classroom and three practice rooms at the Christmas Factory, where reality and fantasy come together in a journey of magic for all ages. The School of Magic is a brand-new activity at Technopolis this Christmas, and joins the popular Escape Room to complete the magical mystery of the season.
Time for an adrenaline rush
If magic tricks and games of mystery prove insufficient to get your adrenaline racing, a 200 square metre skating rink for would-be ice dancers and those daring enough to test their skating skills is fully equipped and ready. Next to it is the 20 metre Ferris wheel, the highest in the centre of the capital, offering those with no fear of heights a spectacular view of the Christmas Factory from above, the Acropolis and the entire city.
Taste treats, gifts and a carousel
A surprise at every turn and around every corner: That’s what the Christmas Factory organisers had in mind when they set up shops with dozens of gift ideas for home and family, restaurants and patisseries with countless options for food and delicious sweets around the famous Italian carousel, a classic ride reminiscent of our childhood.
The Christmas Factory invites you to forget your troubles and share laughter, joy, games and holiday spirit. It was created just like you dreamed it would be. Enjoy it with the whole family and let yourself feel like a kid again