Geared toward high schools and colleges, this yearlong, student-led fundraiser culminates in a day of dancing. Fundraising helps kids at your local Children's Miracle Network Hospital—Boston Children's (that's us!).
On Thanksgiving Day 40 years ago in a house on Farina Street in Newton, MA, members of a small group of Greek Americans were facing a typical immigrant challenge: How to get their children to stay connected with their parents’ homeland traditions in the upcoming holiday season.
After some discussion, the families of Drs. Nicolaos and Ourania Madias, Yannis and Mata Yannas, Demetrios and Argini Lappas, Nikolaos and Danae Kouretas, Demetrius and Mary Iatridis, Yannis and Niki Madias, Tryphon and Marika Vlagopoulos and Vassilis and Eleni Zannis had this idea: To visit the homes of local Greek families and sing the Greek New Year’s Eve Carols (Kalanda). This would get the kids interested and at the same time remind their parents of time-honored holiday customs. This would also allow the visited families to treat the carolers to delicacies traditional to their home area of Greece.
Dr. Zannis offered to build a replica of a boat into which the visited families would put their money, a custom popular in Greek islands. The first year’s boat, however, was made of cardboard and was destroyed by the rain in the first Kalanda procession. The second boat Zannis made, of plastic this time, is still used today.
Most of the collection of the early Kalanda went to the participating children (who found it very satisfying) and a small amount was set aside for the Boston Children’s Hospital Hellenic Cardiac Fund (HCF), which helps poor Greek children in need of serious operations. As the children grew older, however, they thought they should contribute more to those less fortunate than them, so the HCF became Kalanda’s main beneficiary.
Today a new and larger group of people from all walks of Greek-American life continues the tradition and every New Year’s Day, 40-50 children and adults gather to sing the carols. It is estimated that over the years the Kalanda Singers have raised more than $120,000 for the fund. Last year’s collection was more than $9,200.
The camaraderie of the group has created strong bonds among the children and their families. Many of them now bring their own children to the event and those who have moved to other parts of the country and world see/hear the Kalanda Singers via phone, FaceTime or Zoom.
We hope that this wonderful tradition that started 40 years ago will continue for years to come.