ΨΗΦΙΑΚΟ ΜΟΥΣΕΙΟ ΒΛΑΧΟΚΕΡΑΣΙΑΣ

ekklisia.jpgThe churches in the village and in the countryside have played a significant role for Vlahokerasiotes, as places of worship, performance of holy sacraments, celebrations and reinforcement of bonds among families, relatives, and friends. Thus, and often with the support of omogeneis (expatriates), Vlahokerasiotes built and renovated the main village church (Church of the Assumption) as well as numerous country churches (St. George, the Holy Apostles, St. Nicholas/St. Theodore, Prophet Ilias, Church of the Virgin Mary, St. Constantine, St. John, St. Athanasios, St. Irene and St. Efthymios). As expected, the most virtual space in the Vlahokerasia Digital Museum (VDM) was allotted to the church in the village – built basically with funds remitted by the Vlahokerasiotes abroad (Pittsburgh).

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Like all the villages in Greece, Vlahokerasia, has undergone several administrative changes over time. For an overview of the administrative changes during the 19th and 20th Century, the visitor is referred to the brief history of Vlahokerasia, Vlahokerasia: History, Demography and Folklore (in Greek) written by Angelos Bistolas, Elementary School Teacher/former president of the Vlahokerasiotes Association of Attica, and his collaborators. This work also includes a list of the Presidents/Mayors of Vlahokerasia after 1940, as well as a section on the origins of the village’s name (See part II, “Demographic and Administrative Changes”, of the above monograph” under the menu category “History – Traditions”).

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[1] Τhe legal framework which determined the system and structure of education in Greece, up to 1895, was that of King Otto[2] , with a four-year Elementary School, a three-year “Hellenic School” (Scholarcheion) and a three-/four-year Gymnasium.
Following a succession of education laws (1895, 1913 and 1929), basic education (Elementary and Junior High School) evolved into a six-year Elementary School and a six-year Gymnasium/Lyceum[3].

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 “Prophet Ilias” ─ History and Activities

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The “census” of Vlahokerasiotes (1988-1992) which was done under the aegis of the Vlahokerasia Association of Attica (V.A.A.) revealed that 42% of Vlahokerasiotes lived in Attica (Greater Athens)[1]. Apparently, the greater metropolitan of Athens, with a concentration of services and industrial units, functions as an alternative destination and place of employment for Vlahokerasiotes (and Peloponnesians generally), who sought to escape from hardships of agriculture but had no opportunity or no desire to emigrate to overseas countries (U.S., Canada, Australia) during the first part of the 20th century (1900s -1950s).

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“The Voice of our Village” and the “Vlahokerasiotika Chronicles” 

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The Prefect of Arcadia Mr. P. Giannopoulos and MP Mr. D. Kostopoulos confer an honorary plaque to Angelos Bistolas, President of the “Vlahokerasiotes Association of Attica” and Publisher of the Association’s newspaper, “The Voice of our Village” (Source: “The Voice of our Village”, April-June 2002).

The “Vlahokerasiotes Association of Attica –Prophet Elias” published for a number of years the newspapers, “Vlahokerasiotika Chronicles” () and the “Voice of our Village” (1984-2008) which constituted a significant link among Vlahokerasiotes living in the village, in Greece and abroad. The total number of issues of the “Voice of the Village” and a small number of issues of the “Vlahokerasiotika Chronicles” constitute a part of the personal archives of Angelos Bistolas, who, for the needs of the Vlahokerasia Digital Museum and at his own expense, converted the above archives to digital form so that they can be accessible to all Vlahokerasiotes who would like to view them. The multiplying results of internet visits to the archives will be significant to the degree that they inform the younger generation and help the older generation recollect loved ones, past feelings and places[1].

 

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In previous thematic units, we covered the associations of Vlahokerasiotes in Attica and in the diaspora. In this unit, we deal with the associations of Vlahokerasiotes in Vlahokerasia, following a historical approach. The first recognized association with Vlahokerasia as the seat was the “Brotherhood of Vlahokerasiotes – Manthyrea”. It was set up in 1920 according to the Charter that Angelos Bistolas had in his archives. The names of the founding Board members are at the end of the Charter. Cooperating with Giannis Zeppos, we identified the members of the Board listed at the end of the founding Charter.

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We can distinguish two waves of emigration from Vlahokerasia during the 19th and 20th centuries, the pioneer wave (1880-1920) and the later wave (1950 – 1970). The first wave had as destination the U.S. and especially the state of Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. Besides the U.S., the newer one also had Australia and Canada as destinations. The later emigrants who went to the States settled mainly in cities where the first emigrants had settled, usually close to their relatives. Those who went to Australia settled mainly in Sidney and those who went to Canada in Montreal. Migration to Western Europe was almost non-existent, except for few compatriots who settled in Germany and Sweden.

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A Gesture of Gratitude

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Theoretically, the term “benefactor” could include individuals, associations or foundations, who have in some manner benefitted, materially and/or morally, some community or social group. For the VDM, we have in mind benefactors, independent of their place of origin or place of residence, whether or not they are still with us. The benefactors could be Vlahokerasiotes in Greece or abroad, as well as non-Vlahokerasiotes. Their benefactions involve generally the transfer of property (real estate), trust funds, donations and major contributions[1]. The beneficiary community is Vlahokerasia, its residents and its descendants. It is noteworthy that the benefactors of a local community, like Vlahokerasia, do not benefit only the local community –their “special homeland”.

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