FRESKOS Greek Restaurant in Hamden is holding a fundraiser to benefit those affected by the earthquakes in Turkey & Syria. On Wednesday, March 8, 2023, Freskos will donate 20% of sales for the entire day to Connecticut-based Save The Children organization.

FRESKOS is grateful to be able to demonstrate the Greek ideal of “filotimo”* which, translated, means “love of honor” or more simply put, “paying it forward.”

Owner Peter Vouras has roots in Turkey where his maternal grandmother was born in the town of Aivali, now called Avalik. She emigrated to the United States in 1920 and settled in Hartford.

Hours are 11am-8pm. In-house donations are welcome.

Opened by Peter Vouras in 2016, Freskos has become synonymous with fresh, nutritious Greek dining. The establishment was voted “Best Greek Restaurant,” “Best Gyro,” “Best Salad, and “Best Mediterranean Restaurant” by CTNOW’s Best of New Haven reader’s poll. It was also awarded 2021 Small Business of The Year at the Hamden Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber Choice Awards.

*Filotimo, a unique Greek word that even the Greeks themselves have trouble agreeing on its single definition, was the subject of a recent BBC article entitled Filotimo: the Greek Word that can’t be translated.

According to the BBC’s travel writer Stav Dimitropoulos and her research this word dates back to the dawn of Greek classical period, “the exact meaning of filotimo is hotly debated, given that the word belongs to the pantheon of Greek lexical items that defy easy explanation

“‘Love of honour’, its official translation, is a utilitarian yet insufficient attempt to convey the constellation virtues squeezed into the word’s four syllables,” writes Dimitropoulos.

In most common dictionaries, the word filotimo is almost impossible to translate sufficiently, as it describes a complex array of virtues that encompasses honour, dignity and pride, the ideal actions and behaviours, hospitality, bonds, and responsibilities between each other.

“I think we all know what the word means, instinctively, if we are Greek or have been around Greeks for 40 years as I have,” says travel writer, interpreter and translator Paul Hellander in an interview with Neos Kosmos.

“I conclude that the word ultimately refers to the concept of a ‘none-for-profit altruism’; the willingness to do something for someone without seeking reward, but simply because it feels right,” Hellander says.

Truth is, some words are more powerful than others and seem to magically survive the test of time and the evolution of language.

Elder Paisios (Saint Paisios of Mount Athos) once said “Greeks may have a pile of faults, but they also have a gift from God; filotimo and leventia; they celebrate everything. Other peoples do not even have these words in their dictionaries.”

According to Elder Paisios’ definition of the word, filotimo refers to “the relevant distillation of goodness; the radiant love of the humble man bereft of himself, but with a heart full of gratitude to God and his fellow man; because of his spiritual sensitivity he tries to repay even the slightest good that others do to him.”

When Greeks hear the word filotimo, the things they are reminded of include a deep love of family, of country, of one’s society and the greater good.

“Greeks feel it is a virtue to have filotimo. Some words to describe it are unconditional love, kindness and generosity all in one; it is like a mirror to your soul,” states Anna Stroubis, who admits that she doesn’t feel she could ever live a happy life in the absence of filotimo.

“I believe it is a choice to use it, but on the occasions I have second-guessed whether or not to use my filotimo, in the end I feel like I have lost myself and part of who I am,” she admits.

“Filotimo is when you offer your heart in any situation without expecting to gain anything in return,” continues Stroubis.

In essence, filotimo at its core, is about goodness. It is about selflessness and the force that drives an individual to think about the people and the world around them. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that such a concept came into existence and evolved from of the birthplace of democracy.

“While the West was experiencing Enlightenment and developing modern states that tied together individuals under the rule of law and an abstract sense of responsibility, the subjugated and inward-looking Greeks were bound by pride, localism, and interpersonal relationships. Instead of developing the kind of institutional consciousness seen in western Europe, Greek communities were imbued with filotimo, which was triggered not by law and logic but intense emotion and some degree of intimacy,” Vertoudakis writes.

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