DIALOGUES: Surrounded by the Christmas Spirit
20 December 2017

Today, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) held the second event of its new monthly series, DIALOGUES, entitled "DIALOGUES: Surrounded by the Christmas Spirit". The event took place at the Book Castle of the National Library of Greece, at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.

In the second event of the series, his Eminence Metropolitan Bishop Nikolaos of the Holy Metropolis of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, and chef Alexandros Papandreou met on stage and delved into an in-depth discussion, each drawing on their own experience, about the essence of altruism and giving as a way of thinking that translates into action not only during the holiday season but throughout the year, as well as the significance of giving and solidarity in our everyday lives.

On the true meaning of Christmas, his Eminence Metropolitan Bishop Nikolaos of the Holy Metropolis of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, emphasized that Christmas is a celebration that has humans at its “core,” the need for human contact and communication, as well as the inner need of each of us to “existentially assess ourselves.” With regard to the feeling of social solidarity, in the midst of the crisis, his message was encouraging, noting, among other things, that “there is an increase in giving; there is a hidden possibility that is surfacing and that can be further exploited, with the appropriate mechanisms, management and wisdom.”

His Eminence also added another dimension to Christmas, by talking about the project that he personally envisioned and managed to realize, the creation of the “Galilee” Palliative Care Unit. “Galilee” is a model palliative care structure, which the public had the opportunity to get to know better, through a short video that was screened during the event. The SNF has supported—through a grant—the completion of Galilee’s Palliative Care Inpatient Unit, which offers free of charge, comprehensive and continuous palliative care to patients with terminal cancer, as well as to their families, thereby assisting them in achieving the best possible quality of life. In addition, the SNF works closely with Galilee and six other organizations to map the existing needs in the field of palliative care across the country.

The issue of food waste, particularly during the holiday season, was at the heart of yesterday’s discussion, with chef Alexandros Papandreou discussing his significant social and ecological footprint, while suggesting practices to reduce waste through the utilization and supply of leftover food with “character,” characteristically mentioning the vegetables that we often throw away when not consumed in time. By making an analogy between food and social giving, Alexandros Papandreou stressed that, in the same way that the preparation of good food requires love and attention, so should the main “ingredient” of giving be love, good intentions and the desire to spread joy.

Another precious contribution to the discussion was offered by Mr Michalis Samolis, salesperson of Shedia street magazine and tour guide on Athens’ “Invisible Routes,” who shared his experiences through a video and a discussion on stage, talking about how he turned his life around through selling Shedia, stating that “when you are left homeless, you lose three things: the roof over your head, food and love. I managed to find the latter through Shedia; I received love from the people.”

The SNF has supported, through its grants, the establishment and operation of Shedia magazine, the only magazine in Greece that supports the rehabilitation efforts of socially vulnerable groups and helps them tackle social exclusion.

The event was concluded by the Children’s Choir of the Greek National Opera that spread the Christmas cheer with traditional carols and other songs!

Through the monthly series of live events, entitled DIALOGUES, the SNF presents, among others, individuals who inspire through their work and actions. By bringing these series forward, the SNF seeks to catalyze conversations and action around critical issues, facilitate the exchange of ideas, inspire new thinking and spark collaborations across organizations.

The series is live streamed and is also be available on demand in both a video and podcast format on the SNF’s website.

The DIALOGUES are curated and moderated by Anna-Kynthia Bousdoukou.