On this day in 1944, King George II of Greece abdicated his throne and appointed Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens as Regent after pressure from Winston Churchill following the outbreak of Civil War earlier that month. Many believe that the Archbishop’s integrity and impartiality made him the only person suitable for this position. During the subsequent 16 months, the Archbishop called for peace and order in the country following the ‘Dekemvriana’ events. He appointed five premiers and formed an interim cabinet. He relinquished his Regent position after the fighting began to die down and formally recalled King George II four days after the Greeks voted for the restoration of the monarchy in 1946. Archbishop Damaskinos died in Athens in 1949.
On this day in 1933, Chryssa Vardea-Mavromichali (AKA Chryssa), the Greek-American artist known for her neon, steel, aluminum, and acrylic glass installations, was born in Athens into the historically famous Mavromichalis family from the Mani Peninsula. While not rich, her family was described as educated and cultured. Chryssa began painting during her teenage years and studied to become a social worker. In 1953, based on the advice of a Greek art critic, Chryssa’s family sent her to Paris to study art. After Paris, Chryssa set sail for the United States where she studied at the California School of Fine Arts. She then moved to New York in 1955 – finding inspiration in the spectacle of the advertising neon signs of Times Square. She started using neon in 1962 and was one of the first artists to transform it from an advertising tool into an art material. Chryssa worked in New York studios for the majority of her life, until 1992 when she began working in the studio she established in Neos Kosmos in Athens.
On this day in 2008, Cyprus and Malta adopted the Euro, joining 13 other European countries using the single currency. The government of Cyprus approved the designs for the national sides of the euro coins on June 22, 2006, following an open competition. The designs show three national motifs – the mouflon, the ship of Kyrenia, and the prehistoric idol of Pomos. The euro replaced the Cyprus pound (CYP) at the exchange rate of €1 = CYP 0.5852. Cyprus has been a member of the European Union since May 1, 2004 and is a member of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union.
On this day in 1911, Alexandros Papadiamantis, the influential Greek novelist, journalist, short story writer, and poet died of pneumonia on his native island of Skiathos in the western part of the Aegean. He has been referred to as the father of modern Greek literature. Papadiamantis studied in Athens as a teenager, eventually enrolling in the School of Philosophy at the University of Athens. However, he never received his degree due to economic reasons. His father was a priest and believed in the simple life. Papadiamantis shared the same philosophy as his father – he did not care much for money and would often ask for lower fees if he thought he was getting paid too much for his various assignments. His stories provided lucid and lyrical portraits of country life in Skiathos, or urban life in the poorer neighborhoods in Athens, with frequent flashes of deep psychological insight. He never married and was known to be a recluse, whose only true cares were observing and writing about the life of the poor, and chanting at Church; he was often referred to as ‘kosmokalogeros’ (‘a monk in the world’). Many of his works have been translated to English and can be found on Amazon.com. Papadiamantis’ house in Skiathos Town was bought by the Greek State and has been turned into a museum.