NEW YORK – In a festive atmosphere, the sixth Yia Mas event was held at the Coco-Mat in Soho on July 25. The final Yia Mas of the summer featured the Panegyri as its topic and also raised money for Plastic Free Greece.
A summer celebration, the evening was an homage to the Greek summer panegyri. Attendees had the opportunity to learn a bit about what makes these celebrations so special and also great for our health. From the benefits of gathering as a community to dance and music, the discussion also highlighted the ways the panegyri has evolved over time from its roots in ancient pagan rituals to the transformation into celebrations mainly centered around Christian saints and feast days.
Greek-American Yia Mas founder Kristina Headrick led off the event with a brief meditation before her fascinating presentation on the panegyri. She began with a brief introduction, noting the celebrations usually honor a saint on feast days, vary by region, and have very specific, local, cultural flavors.
The health benefits include gathering as a community which is important especially in these times when many feel isolated, the panegyri “reminds us of our interdependency,” Headrick noted. Connecting to and celebrating “the cyclical nature of the human experience” is another benefit, as is the therapeutic effect of music and, of course, dancing is an excellent form of exercise, “especially if you move mindfully.”
Greeks and non-Greeks alike enjoyed the event which offered insights into the unique role of the panegyri in Greek culture. Attendees also shared their thoughts and personal experiences which demonstrated the power of the panegyri and its deep connection to family, faith, and community.
The event included networking and a reception with drinks and snacks for all to enjoy. A raffle was also held for a Coco-Mat pillow which was won by TNH contributor Vasilis Voultsos.
As noted in the event’s description, “Yia Mas is inspired by the gifts of Greece’s land and culture. As such, this event is also raising money for Plastic Free Greece. A portion of ticket sales will go towards their efforts Plastic Free Greece organizes beach cleanups and produces educational documentaries. Help us help them – and keep the land that we love clean for generations to come.”
Among those present were the Director of the Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs at the Consulate General of Greece in New York Georgios Michailidis, Tiffany Apostolou, Nikos Paterakis, George Zapantis, and Bliss Without Bother founder and clinical herbalist Maria Christodoulou who shared some herbal teas at the event.
Yia Mas is an event/retreat series and brand dedicated to health, Hellenism, and community. It began in New York City, and is hosted throughout the states and now, through its upcoming first retreat, in Greece.
Yia Mas bridges ancestral philosophies with modern methodologies for an experience that is truly ripe in the moment. Signature Yia Mas events include Greek herbs as medicine, Know Thyself: Understanding the Mind-Body Connection, an exploration of Greek dance as ecstatic movement (with a focus on the history and music, as well), and an exploration of the goddess archetype.
Follow Yia Mas on Instagram @yia.mas, and Facebook, #yiamas and #namastekala.