Tag Archives: Greece

It’s Election Day – Learn About Elections Around the World

Today is Election Day in the United States. It’s an important day in which citizens exercise their right to vote for people to represent them at the city, county, state, and national levels.

Elections date back to ancient Greece and Rome. They have been used to elect the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope.

In India, elections were held at the village level.

Ancient Arabs used elections to select their leader, called the caliph.

To be a good citizen, Americans have to educate themselves about the issues, decide which are the most important to them, research the candidates for public office, and cast their ballot on Election Day.

Many Americans also volunteer for political campaigns. They might go door to door with information about the candidates and the issues to educate others. They might make phone calls to voters to provide resources and information. They may work to put together a mailing or help create a website.

Political involvement doesn’t begin when the polls open on Election Day and end when they close. To truly participate in the democratic process, Americans have to stay engaged throughout the year so they can hold their representatives accountable.

Once candidates take office, Americans need to communicate with them to ensure that they continue to support the positions that mean the most to the voters. If a candidate seems to be listening to a minority of powerful and influential people and ignoring the concerns of the citizens who elected them, people have to contact those representatives and hold them accountable for their choices.

Americans are very fortunate to have one of the most responsive systems of government in the world. But many other countries also vote. Here’s a list of nations and how their leaders are chosen.

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

About 112 countries hold direct elections for their head of state. A direct election means that voters directly cast their ballots for the person or political party they want to support. More than 220 countries (including dependent territories) hold direct elections at the local level.

The United States holds indirect elections for the head of state, also known as the president. Indirect elections mean that voters cast their ballots for a representative who will select a candidate for president.

To learn more about elections around the world, check out Elections 101 from PBS Kids and Democracy Around the World from PBS Teachers.

If you’re interested in participating in a vote just for children, check out The Global Vote on issues that affect children around the world.

Happy Election Day!

 

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Filed under Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, Learn, Middle East

10 Things Kids Should Know About Greece

With the European debt crisis in the news, children are hearing about Greece only in terms of its economy.

But Greece is more than its headlines. The truth is Greek culture has had an impact on daily life in America and around the world for more than 2,000 years.

While adults struggle to understand the ramifications of the debt crisis, kids should sit back and learn more about Greece, starting with its official name: the Hellenic Republic.

1. Greece, while an ancient civilization, became a modern, independent nation when it won its sovereignty from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. For 2,000 years, Greece had been ruled by non-Greeks, including 400 years when it was governed by Turkey.

2. In 1981, Greece joined what is now the European Union. It gave up its system of currency, the drachma, in 2002.

3. Greece is slightly smaller than the state of Alabama.

4. Made up of mostly mountains and islands, Greece borders three seas: the Aegean, the Ionian, and the Mediterranean.

5. Mount Olympus, the highest point in Greece, is the mythical home of the Greek gods and goddesses. It was also the country’s first national park.

6. Greece has a population of more than 10.7 million people, making it the 76th most populated nation in the world.

7. 61 percent of people live in cities. The two largest cities are Athens, the capital, and Thessaloniki.

8. In 508 BC, the people of Greece created a new system of government. Democracy, the system they created, allows people – not kings or generals – to make decisions about how they wanted to live. Today, Greece’s form of government is a parliamentary republic. That means its citizens elect a prime minister and a parliament to make laws and decisions for the people.

9. The Olympic Games started in Greece in 700 BC. Only men competed in events such as javelin, long jump, and wrestling. The games were outlawed after almost 400 years but were reinstated in 1896.

10. Families are very close in Greece and children often live with their parents even after they get married. Meals are an important part of this family life and their favorite foods, olives, chickpeas, squid, and lamb, are credited with keeping Greeks healthy and able to live long lives.

Although 10 facts cannot give the whole picture of Greece as a country or a culture, it’s helpful to remember it has had an historical and cultural impact on the world that extends beyond its economic impact to the world. Knowing more about any country also helps to understand why they make the choices that they do.

To get more of a taste of what Greek life is like, try making some traditional Greek foods from fish stew to meatballs. Here are some recipes from Good Housekeeping.

If that’s a bit above your skill level, just buy a tub of hummus and some pitas for a fun, Greek snack.

 

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Soupa Avgolemono

Soupa AgvolemonoThis delicious egg and lemon soup comes from Greece.

I love the idea of lemon in soup; it sounds so crisp and refreshing after the often heavy soups we find in restaurants this time of year.

This recipe comes from a fun little book called The Mediterranean Cookbook.

The reason I liked this cookbook so much is because it really showed the connections among North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. I like anything that draws connections between people. And what better way to do that than through food!

This picture is from a website that is a big hit with me – www.athousandsoups.com. Check it out for more ideas!

Soupa Avgolemono

1 ½ quarts chicken stock

1-2 bouillon cubes

½ c rice

2 large eggs

2 ½ tbsp. lemon juice

Salt

Black pepper

1 tbsp. fresh parsley

Bring the stock to boil in a large saucepan, then taste it and if necessary add stock cubes to strengthen the flavor. Throw in the rice and simmer gently until the grains are just tender about 12-15 minutes.

Beat the eggs with a whisk until well mixed and frothy and add the lemon juice. Stir in about 4 tablespoons of the simmering stock, then pour slowly back into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Over very low heat continue cooking and stirring for  few minutes, just until the soup thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon lightly. On no account allow to boil or curdling may result.

Add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with parsley and serve at once.

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Cookies 7: Melomakarona

MelomakaronaGreek families can’t celebrate Christmas – or New Year’s – without them.

Melomakarona, an ancient but delicious cookie, is also known as phoenikia and is thought to have come from the Phoenicians.

These honey-soaked cookies are easy to make and even easier to enjoy. Here’s a recipe from the Food section of the Washington Post, submitted by Katy Skoulas.

Mama Katy’s Melomakarona

Makes about 80 cookies

Ingredients:

For the dough

2 cups vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup cognac

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

6 to 7 cups flour, or as needed

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch ground cloves

For the syrup

2 cups honey

1 cup sugar

2 cups water

For assembly

1 1/2 cups finely crushed walnuts

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

For the dough: Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

For the dough: Combine the oil, sugar, cognac, orange juice and citrus zests in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium speed to dissolve the sugar.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves on a large piece of wax paper. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture to the bowl until a very soft dough forms.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix in flour as needed until the dough is quite stiff; you should be able to take pinches of it and roll them into walnut-size balls. The balls can be smooth or coarsely shaped. Place them 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.

Bake 2 sheets at a time for a total of 25 minutes; about halfway through the baking, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. The cookies will be barely browned and firm to the touch. Keep them on their baking sheets. Repeat to use all the dough.

For the syrup: Combine the honey, sugar and water in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then cook for 5 minutes, using a slotted spoon to skim off and discard the foam that forms on the top. Cook for a few minutes; the syrup will thicken slightly and deepen in color. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to keep the syrup warm.

For assembly: Place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Lay a large piece of wax paper on the counter for the finished cookies. Spread the crushed walnuts on a large shallow plate and sprinkle with the cinnamon, stirring to combine.

Place 6 or 7 of the cookies at a time in the saucepan; allow them to sit long enough (2 to 3 minutes) to absorb some of the syrup, turning them as needed to coat evenly. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cookies to the rack for a minute or two, then transfer them to the walnut mixture; roll to coat evenly, then transfer to the wax paper to cool completely. Repeat to coat all the cookies; place the cookies in small paper baking cups. If desired, sprinkle any remaining nut mixture on top of the cookies.

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