Remarkable Story Of One Bride's Wish To Honor 5 Generations Of Greek Women With Century-Old Wedding Coat

  • by XpatAthens
  • Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Remarkable Story Of One Bride's Wish To Honor 5 Generations Of Greek Women With Century-Old Wedding Coat
A great grand-daughter born in New York and a great-grandmother born a world and four generations back in Turkey - connected by a wedding coat.  This is the beautiful story of Evangelia Tsaoussis and her desire to pay tribute to four generations of her family's Greek heritage.

Ever since Evangelia (Eva) first laid eyes on her Yiayia Eliso's wedding coat, she felt a connectiont to it.  Yiayia Eliso was her great-grandmother, her 'little yiayia' who was both as tall and as tiny as Eva was.  And although they were born a world apart and in different eras, more than a century apart - growing up little Eva felt a special bond with her great grandmother.  

Both were born with the same attitude and thirst for life as the other, that same underlying love of family and fierce survivor attitude.  Eva and her great-grandmother were very close,  Yiayia Eliso passed away at the age of almost 100, leave Eva with a full lifetime of memories.

Yiayia Eliso was born Elizabeth Bantos in the early 1900s in the historic Phanar district of then Constantinople to parents who fled from Pontos and walked for days to reach safety. It was the time in the late 1800s and early 1900s when life for Greeks in Asia Minor was volatile and dangerous.

Yiayia Eliso’s mother Vasiliki was given a traditional Greek wedding coat by her mother, taking the story of this embroidered jacket back five generations. With the help of a Turkish Imam in Constantinople, Eliso’s family was helped with safe passage to Epirus in mainland Greece, where they stayed for a few years, before heading to Athens, where the family settled.

All along the way, the wedding coat that was with the family for generations was amongst the most precious cargo when the family resettled from one place to another. Eva’s family tree is the stuff legends are made of— having survived the massacres and genocide of the Greeks of Pontos, migration from Constantinople to mainland Greece, both world wars, the occupation, the civil war and subsequent expulsion from their homeland, eventually arriving in America as refugees, where Eva’s mother Liz (named after yiayia Eliso), was born.

Liz grew up in New York’s close-knit Greek American community. She eventually married and had two children— Eva, and a son George. She instilled in both of her children a love of faith, culture and community service and always shared stories of her rich family history and heritage. So when Eva matured and it was time for her to get married— it was only natural that she honor her family— and the memory of her great grandmother with whom she shared so much— by donning the family wedding coat.

To read more, please visit: Pappas Post