On January 5, the National Hellenic Museum’s (NHM) Chairman John P. Calamos, Sr. was joined by His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael, the Greek community and supporters who gathered for the annual cutting of the Vasilopita cake.
Chairman Calamos also took the opportunity to reflect on the museum’s accomplishments in 2018, and expand on its hopes for the future.
Calamos said it was a special honor for those gathered at the NHM to have His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael present to celebrate the beginning of 2019 and to cut the Vasilopita.
The Metropolitan spoke to the Greek language program students, other children from the community and their families about the importance of their heritage and history. His Eminence told the children about never having the opportunity to meet his own grandparents, yet feeling as if he knew them through the stories that were passed on to him by his family.
Metropolitan Nathanael related his experience to the work of the NHM, and shared his view of the Museum as another “sacred institution” which collects and protects these stories to ensure they are passed on to today’s children.
John Calamos said that “His Eminence’s commitment to the children of our Archdiocese is evident… I am eager to see his initiatives gain traction in 2019. We are proud to partner with His Eminence, and I could not agree more with his comments about the work of the Museum.”
Looking back at 2018, John Calamos also noted how the museum, founded as the “Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center” in 1983 in Chicago’s Greektown, has become the American cultural cornerstone for Greek heritage.
Everyone associated with the Museum is proud to continue to share the legacy of Hellenism through its exhibitions, events, educational programs and lecture series and classes.
“Our Greek language program is at maximum enrolment,” Calamos stated. “Every Saturday the Museum is filled with children learning not only the Greek language, but Greek dance, customs and traditions, as well.
“The program also teaches adults from a variety of cultural backgrounds our beautiful language, resulting in a wonderful “parea” which extends beyond the walls of the Museum.”
Calamos also noted with pride that the Museum boasts “the largest collection of Greek-American artifacts and oral histories preserved, anywhere,” with its growing repository of over 20,000 artifacts.
It’s no wonder that the museum is a top destination for field trips in the Chicagoland area, and, in 2018, the Hellenic Foundation was responsible for funding many of the trips. This meant that over 21,000 people were able to visit the museum in 2018, the Chairman reflected.
The list of the events the museum hosted in 2018 is extensive and includes its annual Gala, the culinary event “Kouzina,” and an annual Ancient Greek trial, among others. Each and every one of the events passed on priceless cultural knowledge, which helps the museum fulfill its mission to “preserve the stories and honor the contributions … of Greek immigrants and Americans of Greek heritage”.
Upon the completion of the annual Greek Orthodox tradition of cutting the Vasilopita, which dates back over 1,600 years, the museum turned the page to enter the new year of 2019.
Calamos concluded his address by stating: “I am proud of the work of the NHM, and I look forward to sharing more experiences with you this year… We are committed to our partnerships with people and institutions that support the Hellenic legacy.”
The upcoming year promises to be another banner year for the NHM as it continues its vital mission of preserving and passing on the priceless memories and heritage of the Greek-American people.