NEW YORK – Fr. Nikodemos Karkasinas of the Upper Dropolis diocese, prefecture of Argirokastro dedicated his new book to his home town, Evangelates, in Northern Epirus. This is the seventh consecutive book published by the publishing house Neraida which, if anything, highlights the fact that Epirus was and remains a cradle of Hellenism and that every village and region has its own traditions, the customs and folkways which in combination with the monuments constitute a precious gem of Greek civilization in the broader sense of the term.
Fr. Nikodemos Karkasinas as a writer is well-known to the National Herald readership after the article published on his previous book, Dropolis – Cradle of Hellenism and Cradle of Civilization.
The author spoke with TNH and pointed out that recording the history, folklore, and culture of an individual town was not and could not be considered an easy matter.
“The project was everything but easy. This was because it was dedicated to the town where I was born and saw the sunrise for the first time, the small town where I grew up and was nurtured with the virtues and ideals of our people.
“In the town, I return to the difficult and pleasant moments to renew my strength and gain strength to continue the work of the shepherd and the writer,” Fr. Karkasinas told TNH.
The author pointed out that the circulation of this book awakened the interest of many other Northern Epirotes in recording the history and culture of the village and their region.
“There were many people asking me, ‘Fr. Nikodemos when are you going to write a book about our village?’ This is a legitimate question, not a just request of those people who are protecting Thermopylae, our own generation, at least, ought to take it into account and fulfill it,” the author noted, adding that the publication of a book specifically about Northern Epirus is not an easy matter.
“The publication of a book in Northern Epirus differs from any other place on the planet where Hellenism lives because books are provided for free as the purchasing power of those left in Northern Epirus is non-existent,” he said.
The book, Evangelates – Cultural Town of Epirus, is illustrated and is over 500 pages, because the last part, Genealogical Trees, includes 30 different trees.
The author dedicates the book to “all his compatriots who have been forced to emigrate and live in the hope of returning to their own homeland.”
And this, as he pointed out during the interview with TNH is not a coincidence.
“I dedicate it to those who left for foreign lands before the Second World War, as well as to those who did not outlive the brutal dictatorship of Enver Hoxha and because of the Iron Curtain could not return to their homeland.
Some died before the collapse of the wire grids with the desire to return to Evangelates. This book will inspire their children and grandchildren to come back and search for their roots.
“To visit the graves of their ancestors and to experience our culture,” he added.
The new book is impressive with its depth of knowledge and the passion with which the author incorporated the philological, historical, cultural, folklore, and ethnological elements.
Of particular interest is the historical retrospective of the events of the last century and the persecutions suffered by the Evangelates and, consequently, the Greeks of Northern Epirus and the incomparable vigor with which they preserved their traditions and cultural wealth by the skin of their teeth.
The recording of the folk proverbs, the traditions that accompany the mysteries of birth, baptism, marriage, and funerals in combination with place names are a perfect tool for those who want to explore and study the folklore of Hellenism in Northern Epirus.
This book may well be the basis for future theses and studies by historians and folklorists.
Fr. Nikodemos Karkasinas, born Zisis Karkasinas, in 1956 at the Evangelates of Agion Saranda, was ordained a deacon in 1993 and three years later as a presbyter. He is a graduate of the Higher Ecclesiastical School of Dyrrachion (Durres) and the Department of Greek Language and Literature at the University of Argirokastro.
Today, he is the priest for the villages of Upper Dropolis and teaches Modern Greek at IEK of Argirokastro Pnoi Agapis.
After graduating from the University of Argirokastro, he began writing and has published seven books so far.