|Mary Ziavras’ parents escaped the
Greek/Armenian genocide at the turn of the 19th century, bringing
with them stories of a culture that endured centuries of persecution.
Greek Folk Stories Old and New provides a unique insight into
the culture of a Greek society that was thriving in that region from the time of
antiquity and was quickly annihilated during World War I and its aftermath.
Their way of life was shattered when they were forced to flee, abandoning their
homes and property or be slaughtered by soldiers of the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
With this book the oral traditions of a people that survived this genocide are
Mary's father, Efstratios Zaferiou and
his family fled from the island of Mitilini in 1912. Her mother's family
the Anadolis' fled from a town in Eastern Thrace called Skopos and immigrated to
NY in 1916. They were
among over 2 million political refugees of the Greek/Armenian Genocide.
"My mother aged 16, and her sister and brother immigrated to New York
to begin anew in 1916. They were part of a society that maintained their
Christian values and heritage despite enduring generations of discrimination
and oppression from their Muslim occupiers. They brought their customs
and beliefs to The United States along with the tradition of oral storytelling,
which was a customary way to pass the time. At a very young age I was captivated
by their anecdotes. My collection of stories is culled from first-hand
accounts of my relatives who reminisced about their homeland. I created
twenty short vignettes that depict the struggles, aspirations and often
hilarious antics of peasants from a bygone era. In this book I document their way
Historic maps of Eastern Thrace, birthplace of Mary's mother Chrysanthy
Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains
and the Aegean Sea on the
south, and by the Black Sea and
the Sea of Marmara on
the east. The areas it comprises are southeastern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace), and the European part of Turkey (Eastern Thrace). The
biggest part of Thrace is part of present-day Bulgaria. In Turkey, it is also
called Rumelia. The name comes from
the Thracians, an ancient Indo-European people inhabiting Southeastern