January 20 2013, Philadelphia, PA. – St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral commemorated the Sandy Hook school victims during church services this past Sunday. A moment of silence was observed while Father Costa read the names of the victims of the tragic shooting that took place.

Irene Pappas, President of the ladies Philoptochos and several other members spoke out about this event following services. “On this, the 40th day, we recognize those that have passed in the Greek Orthodox church during service.” In attendance were dignitaries from across the Philadelphia community for this service. The Society of Epirotes of Philadelphia, “Omonia” chapter members (numbering 120) were also present.

The Society of Epirotes of Philadelphia, “Omonia”, sponsored a Vasilopita (New years bread) cutting as they do every year. The patron saint of Ioannina in Epirus, Greece, “St. George of Ioannina”, was also recognized. During service, Father Costa Christo blessed the Vasilopita, before carrying a replica icon of St. George through the church during liturgy services.

At the end of the service, the church members receded to the hall for coffee and Vasilopita that was sponsored by the Manos family. This was followed by the first general assembly of the year by the chapter members of “Omonia”, Epirotes of Philadelphia.

There, the “Tsipourovrathia” (dance) became the main order of discussion (scheduled for: March 9th 2013/St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church). Tsipouro is preferred by Greeks in Ioannina as it’s local drink over Ouzo which is generally recognized the country over.

This year marks another special occasion. The chapter will celebrate the “100” year of liberation of City of Ioannina. Started in 1938 this organization has was rooted to the Delaware Valley from Ioannina, Epirus, Greece where it’s members hail from. February 17,2013, a Doxology at St.George Cathedral will be hosted to mark the occasion, which will be accompanied by a free lunch for everyone celebrating 100 yrs.

The meeting concluded with the annual Vasilopita cutting. This long time tradition (St. Basil’s bread)has been part of the chapter history for many years. During this annual tradition a”Greek Lyra”is awarded. The winners name (this year: Phillip Nikolaidis) is either drawn from a hat or during the cutting of the Vasilopita bread. The winner receives a Gold coin The coin depicts St. George on one side, and King George of Greece on the other.

President Kostas Kravaris of the “Omonia” Society of Epiros was interviewed about chapter events and the Tsipourovrathia.