We're often asked, who are you folks and why do you host an annual Greek Festival?
Well, we'd be happy to share with you! In fact, sharing is the entire point of Greek Fest!
Philoxenía defined: love of strangers; eagerness to show hospitality.
This is a large part of Greek culture, and a huge part of who we are.
How Did We Get Here?
Probably on a boat. Seriously, Greeks love to sail! Greek immigrants have been coming to Rochester since the early years of the city, connecting with one another, celebrating their shared culture and embracing their new American identity. Greece is an Orthodox Christian country and the Orthodox Church is a big part of Greek culture. In 1947, twenty-six Greek-Americans gathered to establish their own Orthodox Church in Rochester, founding their first church building in 1954.
Since those early days Greek-Americans have wanted to share their culture with their friends and neighbors. Philoxenía means showing kindness and generosity to strangers, inviting them into your family, and showing love and legendary hospitality. So in 1963 members of the Greek Orthodox Church in Rochester held the first Rochester Greek Fest to do just that, by inviting friends and neighbors to become Greek with us for a day.
Since then we have held many, many Greek Fests, made a lot of new friends, and created many thousands of honorary Greeks!
So Where Did We Get To?
Over the years our church has grown and we have been able to spread philoxenía in exciting new directions. Our church has purchased four houses in our neighborhood and turned them into Philoxenía Houses. These homes provide a place for people to stay while seeking medical treatment in Rochester. There is no charge for staying in our houses, and they are open to people of all religious faiths or none. This philoxenía is a crucial part of our Orthodox Christian faith, and at the very heart of what it means to be Greek.
Today, the Greek Orthodox Church still hosts our annual Greek Festival, and the money raised from the festival helps to support our church and Philoxenía Houses. The demographics of our church have changed over time, and our family now includes Russians, Romanians, Serbians, Egyptians, Iraqis, Eritreans, converts and many more!
So Why Still a Greek Fest?
Because being Greek is not just a nationality, it is a state of mind, of phrónema.
It is a way of looking at life, of loving others with generosity, embodied in philoxenía.
That is what we celebrate.
That is why we are Greeks, Greek-Americans, and honorary-Greeks.
That is why we want to open our homes and our hearts to you.
And that is how you can be Greek too!
For more info about our Philoxenía Houses please check out the website: