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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church Celebrates Annual Greek Festival for 40 Years Strong

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St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church Celebrates Annual Greek Festival for 40 Years Strong

by James Coulter

Unless you’re of Greek heritage, chances are you’ve never heard of the word “philotimia.” It’s a Greek word that translates to “love of honor.” However, as another website explains, the word encompasses “an attitude toward fellow humans and humanity at large.”

For more than 40 years, St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church has been sharing “philotimia” with the surrounding Winter Haven community by sharing its culture and heritage through its annual Greek Festival.

“We have vendors from across the country and even Greece,” said Tina Thomas, President of the Parish Council. “People have been raving about our food and pastries. People came back today, and they are coming back tomorrow, they tell us.”

The church once more hosted its annual Greek festival last weekend, where it served authentic Greek food, performed traditional Greek music and dance, and hosted tours of its Greek Orthodox Church building.

Thomas and her dedicated committee members worked hard all year to organize and plan the festival. Not only does the event allow them to share their Greek culture and heritage with fellow parishioners, but also with the surrounding community.

Her church has been involved with charitable work and donations, which help serve as their outreach. They offer plenty of food, clothes, and other donations throughout the year. It is their way of expressing their own “philotimia.”

“We love it. We live for it,” she said. “We as Greek people are very philanthropic and generous and we always reach out to our American non-Greek people. We want them to come to our church and festivals. We want them to be Greek for the weekend. Especially over the last two years, we had so many people convert. We share our love and faith for people and reach out to people.”

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