Friday, June 15, 2007

Cretan Hospitality

At some point it was rumoured that Zeus the Great, the master of the ancient pantheon, who was born in the Diktean Cave, and was brought up in the mountain of Idi, had died and had been buried at his place of birth, Crete. True to Zeus, the poet of Hellenistic times, Kalimahos from Alexandria, dedicates a hymn in which he strongly refutes the unacceptable, in his opinion, story: "…Oh father… The Cretans have always been liars. But why have they gone as far as in the grave, Oh king, to bury you. But you have not died, you are immortal."

Indeed the Cretans were lying. It is irrefutable however that they had their reasons for wanting their grand god to die, reasons that no one else could comprehend: a god who is the embodiment of nature is a god who dies every year and is reborn even stronger with the blossoming spring…. Similarly, Zeus, born and raised in Crete, dies and is resurrected, lives and reigns. It is also self -explanatory that he who is in harmony with nature and lives at her pace cannot but respect, love and accept her offspring.

In this way the Zeus of Crete becomes Xenios, the protector of visitors, who generously offers his hospitality to every stranger who wishes to honour his sacred land. Besides hospitality, two other principles also dominate in the soul of each Cretan: virtue and honour, while in the hierarchy of ethical values the highest position is held by friendship, second only to family.

The Cretan soul often reaches the point of exaggeration in their valour and passion for freedom, their courage, strength, love for their country and nature even in their hospitality towards strangers.

We cordially invite you to Chania and proffer you this gift which in our day and age is becoming more and more scarce. Mingle with the locals, sit with them at the same table, listen to their stories and the secrets they want to share with you. Become familiar with their exaggeration and their morals. Accept their Cretan hospitality whether that is in the form of a shot of raki on the go or a glass of wine with a bite of goat meat or even a lavish meal in a poor and humble home.

The people of Chania will overwhelm you with their love, share with you whatever they have and they will make you feel at home. It is neither a pretentious way of showing off nor a matter of habit or honour; it is simply a way of life and an articulation of their soul's desire. Nothing belongs to the Cretan. His home is all of the Cretan land and none of it has any boundaries. With joy and pride he recognizes that he himself is also a guest of honour in the castle of his generous father, Xenios Zeus, the Cretanborn.

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