National Congress Theme: Apokries

Information written by Eugenia Pappathanassiu. Images taken from Google Images. 

In a nutshell, Apokries is Greece’s token Carnival which allows Greeks to indulge and celebrate before the 40 day fast (Sarakosti) leading up to Orthodox Easter. It takes place over three weeks: week one is ‘’Profoni’’ (the. Pre-announcement), week two is the ‘’Kreatini’’ (Meat Week) and week three is called ‘’Tyrofagou’’ (literally meaning, ‘’cheese-eater’’).

Apokries also follows various traditions set on certain days such as Tsiknopempti (literally ‘’smelly’’ or ‘’smokey’’ Thursday) where Greeks prepare plethoras of meat dishes and venture off to the bars dressed up in absolutely any type of attire that their hearts desire. The festival generally places emphasis on the attributes of masquerade and mystery to enable freedom of expression as well as personal amusement.

Hence, Apokries is a time in which pranks and merriment are in excess. On the last Sunday just before Kathari Deftera (Clean Monday), there are grand carnival extravaganzas with parties, concerts and parades that take place all over Greece and their finales usually involve the burning of an effigy – the Carnival King. They say that Apokries dates back to the Ancient Greek festivals celebrating Dionysos, the god of wine and fertility, and the ‘’rebirth’’ of flora at the end of winter. Either way, we’d sign up for it in a heartbeat.

Style tips:

Some attendees tend to adopt the frivolous clown/court jester style of the carnival, but since the festival prides itself on disguise and anonymity, people are encouraged transform into anyone/anything that entices them.

Have you always wanted to dress up as Jack Sparrow and run around cheering ‘’I’ve got a jar of dirt”? Now you can. Oh, you and your significant other feel like having a laugh and dressing up as ‘’bacon and eggs’’? This is the right time to do it! So you’ve just seen Gal Gadot play the role of Wonder Woman and now you’re like, totally obsessed? Yes, you can be her for a few hours until you start feeling lightheaded in that corset thing and your feet feel like they’re about to fall off from wearing those high heeled boots all night because Apokries = limitless style.


National Congress Theme: Oktoberfest

Article written by our wonderful, Eugenia Pappathanassiu. Images taken from Google Images. 

Oktoberfest, which is held annually in Munich, Germany, is the world’s largest ‘’Volkfest’’ which includes a traveling funfair with loads of food and activities as well as the world renowned beer festival. This year, Oktoberfest is 207 years old and still going strong.

Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about Oktoberfest:

1. The first Oktoberfest was actually a wedding reception.

In 1810, the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig celebrated his 12th wedding to princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen and invited all the people of Munich to attend. The newlyweds had so much fun that they opted to make their anniversary a yearly occurrence.

2. Bavarians call festival faders ‘’Bierleichen’’ i.e. the German word for ‘’Beer Corpses’’.

With Bavarian brews containing around 6-8% of alcohol and being stronger than the average German concoction, dehydration and passing out are prevalent.

3. War and disease got in the way of Oktoberfest 24 times.

Cholera epidemics in 1854 and 1873 and all the years of World War 1, World War 2 and the Franco-Prussian War were without celebrations.

4. If the name of the festival were a little more specific, we’d be calling it ‘’Septemberfest’’.

Yes, that’s right. Oktoberfest actually starts during mid-September and finishes right at the beginning of October.

5. Albert Einstein once worked there.

The theoretical physicist worked as an electrician at some point in his life and offered his services to set up one of the tents in 1896.

6. Paris Hilton is banned from there.

In 2006, the heiress attended the festival in a short dirndl (the traditional Oktoberfest attire for women) and wreaked havoc by promoting a brand of canned wine without any prior consultation with festival organizers whilst heavily intoxicated.

7. The lost and found boasts a variety of items.

Allegedly between 4000-5000 items are lost each year including passports, wedding rings, tickets to concerts and soccer matches, children, a Segway and a set of dentures.

8. The knot on the pinafore of a woman’s dirndl determines her status.

Beware of chatting up a woman whose knot is placed on the right; it means she’s either married or unavailable and you’re in trouble. A knot on the left means she’s single and ready to mingle.

Style tips:

Women tend to wear the traditional dirndl dress. If you don’t have one of those, a peasant blouse, a loose-fitting knee-length skirt and your grandmother’s frilly apron should maximize your authenticity. Men and women can also wear the traditional lederhosen which is a pair of brown leather shorts with suspenders that hold them up and a checkered shirt underneath. Bavarian hats, also known as Tyrolean hats, are widely worn. If all else fails, wearing any beer or German related outfit would certainly suffice at an Oktoberfest themed party.

National Congress Theme: Cinco De Mayo

Article written by our wonderful, Eugenia Pappathanassiu. Images taken from Google Images. 

On 5 May every year, Americans drink several shots of tequila in honor of the time when 4000 very inexperienced Mexican soldiers defeated 6500 French soldiers who were well equipped and skilled in the art of war. Yes, Cinco de Mayo, which directly translates to ’’the fifth of May’’ commemorates the day (5 May 1862) of the improbable victory of the Mexican over the French at the Battle of Puebla.
Here are five facts about Cinco de Mayo that you may not know:
  • It’s not actually that ‘’important’’ in Mexico.

Cinco de Mayo is only really celebrated in the city of Pueblo where the battle took place and is more widely celebrated in the US. This is mostly due to the efforts of president Franklin Roosevelt to improve relations between US and Latin American countries by enacting the ‘’Good Neighbour’’ policy.

  • Mexico didn’t win that war.
Despite the Battle of Pueblo being a David-and-Goliath-esque moment, France eventually won the war and occupied Mexican territory for five years.
  • Americans consume around 81 million avocados on Cinco De Mayo.

This statistic was released by the California Avocado Commission in 2012 (yes, California has its own Avocado Commission). That’s a lot of guac.

  • Margarita sales skyrocket on 5 May in the USA.

Bloomberg has calculated that roughly 2.9 Billion dollars is spent by Americans to celebrate Mexico’s small victory and this equates to around 14% of annual cocktail sales.

  • Chihuahuas feature substantially in the festivities.

The city of Chandler in Arizona, hosts chihuahua races. There is even a chihuahua beauty contest at the Longmont festival in Colorado.

Style tips:

Cinco de Mayo is about fun and festivity and your attire should reflect that accordingly. If you’re looking to go all out, throw on a sombrero, a poncho or an ostentatious flower headdress. If you want to be more subtle, incorporate color, flamboyance, Mexican embroidery and off-the-shoulder styles to your outfit.

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Name Day Calendar: November

Make sure to wish your loved ones this month!

Infographic design & information compiled by Eugenia Pappathanassiu. 

OXI DAY: 28 October

Infographic and information compiled by NAHYSOSA Editor, Eugenia Papathanasiou. 

Discovering Cyprus. Discovering Me.

Article written by Annie Kolatsis who attended the NCCT program in August 2017. NCCT stands for NEPOMAK Cyprus Culture Tour and is run by NEPOMAK. 

When I sat down and thought about what to write about NCCT, nothing seemed good enough. How could I properly put into words what this tour had done for me? How it had changed me? While those 10 days were spent discovering Cyprus, a huge part of the trip was also about discovering myself.

Here is what I managed to figure out along the way.

Being Cypriot goes beyond knowing how to speak the language.
It also goes beyond knowing how to order a frappe, doing a zembekiko or being able to do the head tilt “tsou” as a way of saying “no”. That being said, I’ve always felt inadequate around my Cypriot family, and Cypriots in general, not being able to speak the language. This trip was the first time I didn’t feel that way. The reason? With everything I was learning and experiencing, I didn’t feel like a tourist anymore. The activities, the guided tours; they gave me what I had been missing all these years. The story. And not just from 1964 onwards. The WHOLE story – or as much as you can hear in 10 days. Knowing more about the island other than which beach to visit, or where to get the best sheftalies, made such a

There is more to Cyprus than just beautiful beaches and souvlaki.
While I knew that Cyprus was full of olive trees, I had no idea that some were as old as 700 years. Seven. Hundred. Years. It really put into perspective how little I knew about Cyprus and how much history was waiting to be discovered.

Photo: Jovanna Faria

If you’ve never been to Akamas National Park, then you’re in for a treat. There’s a beautiful walk to a gorge that took thousands of years to form. Lara Bay is also nearby and guess what? It’s a sea turtle conservation station. Next thing I knew, I was watching sea turtle eggs hatch! What an incredible experience and an unexpected one at that.

Photo: Annie Kolatsis (Author)

Once you start discovering the history, you can’t stop.
The fact that Cyprus is known as the birthplace of Aphrodite creates an almost mystical air. Visiting places like Petra tou Romiou, the Baths of Aphrodite and the Paphos mosaics made me realize just how impressive the island’s history is. Seeing ancient mosaics that date back to second century A.D. fueled my imagination and awakened a thirst in me to know more. Thankfully, there is plenty more history for me to sink my teeth into.

Photo: Marina Kotonous


Photo: Andreas Georghiou

We are all Cypriots.
I think the most important thing I figured out is that, whether we come from South Africa, America or the U.K., whether we are half Cypriot or full, there is more that makes us similar than what makes us different. Sure, we have nuances that are influenced by where we grew up (like calling sheftalies ‘shefties’), but one thing remains the same:

We are passionate.
We are proud.
We are Cypriot.

Photo: Panayiota Zambas

If you’d like to find out more about NEPOMAK or NCCT head to:

Cyprus: An Insider’s Perspective

Blog post written by Andrea Nichas. Images sourced from Google. 

They say a single picture can speak a thousand words, but what if not even a thousand pictures contained the truths of what was beyond the lens? What if what you see through your very own eyes is so incomparable to what your camera could capture? What if you’ll find yourself so overwhelmed in the moment that you forget for what feels like an eternity that you aren’t dreaming?

I’ve tried countless times to express myself, to explain why I become so speechless when it comes to speaking of Cyprus. Perhaps it’s the fact that I feel so very connected to the roots of my homeland, or it could even be because I feel so completely at ease from the moment I step off that plane- it’s as if I never even left. It’s truly an atmosphere like no other, but don’t take my word for it, I recommend that you feel the sensations for yourself.

See, it’s not simply the sunshine that gets to you. It’s not even the smoothness of that clear-blue ocean that seeps into your heart. It’s so much more than that. You’ll find yourself falling for the culture, for the unreal aura of history, and the excitement of discovering the stories of past and new. The curiosity of wanting to know what it’s like for the locals, of trying to understand what they’re saying when they go off on some incomprehensible tangent that includes the most expressive of gestures. To actually witness the divide of the land from a war long lost to the Turks. Let alone hear the tales from when the invasion itself began. I digress though, there’s so much more to this wondrous land! Allow me to take you through some of my favorite Cypriot experiences.

I almost don’t know where to begin, but there’s one thing that resonates through my mind- the crisp perfection of that surreal ocean. Not only can you lose yourself in the endless wonder of a sea that greets the horizon, have I mentioned just how refreshing the water feels while it cools your body from the blazing heat? Trust me, it’s marvelous.

Love Bridge, Ayia Napa. Google Images. Cyprus Index.

Protaras Beach. Google Images.

There are many ways for one to explore an unfamiliar land; one route is through the paths of the ancestors. The cobbled stones of the amphitheater that tells infinite stories of performances once put on for the enjoyment of spectators. The remains of elaborate tombs that show a life once lived by those considered more fortunate than most.

Cyprus Tombs of the King. Google Images.

Amphitheatre. Google Images.

Let’s not forget that one must encounter the culture too! There’s so much to be seen, from the coffee shops that have the elder generation playing Tavli outside (a game otherwise known as backgammon), to the streets of Agia Napa littered with the more liberal youngsters wondering from club to club on a mission to find the perfect settling spot.

The Castle Club, Ayia Napa. Google Images.


More classically however, I can assure you that listening to an orchestra playing in an open theatre has a most soothing effect if you’re looking for a moment to collect your mind- it can be rather overwhelming indulging in an environment that’s not your own.

Speaking of indulging, I absolutely cannot choose just one dish to recommend to you, there are simply far too many that will entice your taste buds- be adventurous! Try as many of the traditional dishes that you possibly can, there’s plenty to choose from. However, there is a delight I have to mention- you can’t leave Cyprus without having tried triantaffilo (rose) ice cream! I’ll admit it’s a personal favorite and I possibly have my own attachments to the delectable indulgence, but perhaps you’ll develop a taste for it yourself.

There’s just something about Cypriots that I can’t compare to anyone else, the pride in their religion is so profound, the desire to continue fighting for their country is extraordinary. Once again, perhaps its because I am one of them in a sense, I might not live in the country, but I understand their morals as I live them too. The people will leave an impression on you though, that much is certain.

I’d love to say I’ve seen it all, that there’s not a single stone I’ve left unturned on that soil- but how wrong that would be. I simply can’t get enough, and there will always be something new to discover. I’m all yours Cyprus; I’ll keep coming back for more.

Name Day Calendar: October

My word time flies. Cannot believe we are already in October! Check the calendar out to ensure you are up to date with the name days for the month. Impress yia yia at Sunday lunch!

Infographic designed & compiled by Eugenia Papathanasiou

My Congress Experience

My Congress Experience by Costa Kyriacou. 

Congress seems like a lot of fun and it is. Congress seems like a massive party and it is. Congress seems like it attracts a lot of youth from around the country and it does.

All of the above are tangible to every person that experiences this incredible getaway, possibly even evident. However, like many things in life, it is often the intangible, more soulful aspects that stick with us the most and are the most important.

The arrival on the first day, feeling a bit nervous but at the same time excited not knowing what to expect or who you may meet. Not knowing if you’re ‘cool’ enough to be on this trip or likable enough to make new friends. Then within a few hours of getting on the bus, meeting all your fellow Congress attendees, sharing a drink and listening to incredible music – all of those thoughts you once had, almost miraculously vanish and you realize that you can just be yourself and the next few days are going to be one of the most memorable of your life!

Coming from different backgrounds, different cities, having different interests – you are effortlessly yet powerfully bound by your common Hellenic identity when that first Greek song comes on or when you hear “re” for the first time. Before you can think again you’re on your knees clapping for that same guy or girl you were so afraid to meet, blurting out the words while they dance a zembekiko. Your eyes tear up, you smile at each other and everyone around you and that’s when you realize you belong.

Youth without Hellenic origin are always warmly welcomed and fit in effortlessly. By the end of this incredible journey you become inseparable and saying goodbye is awfully painful. In hindsight though, you have touched the hearts of many special people around you and they have touched yours. It is not long until you see each other again – especially with the amount of incredible NAHYSOSA events that take place around the country.

Congress helped me get out of my comfort zone, it taught me to love my culture and my roots even more and it taught me to cherish those around me.

Words are tangible to me and no matter how I try explain it, the emotions one feels on this journey can only be truly experienced by attending Congress.

Take a deep breath, close your eyes and click APPLY!!!

Written By:

Costa Kyriacou

Past Pretoria Hellenic Youth Committee (PHYC)


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Inland Congress Theme Party (Green) 2014

Port Elizabeth Congress 2015

Cape Town Congress Boat Trip 2016

Cape Town Congress Theme Party (Ancient Greek) 2016